...By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
A former police superintendent took his own life after quitting the force while under investigation for pocketing £4,300 in fake expenses and his partner left him.
Michael Rogers, 56, was under investigation when he left Dorset Police in May 2021 after 32 years of service. A police disciplinary panel found him guilty of gross misconduct in November 2021 and told him he would have been sacked had he not quit.
Rogers was later found dead in his former partner’s garage with a note telling her, ‘We so nearly made it, can’t go on’. An inquest heard today that the investigation had a huge impact on Rogers, and he struggled to transition to his new job as a self-employed gardener after three decades in the force.
Susan Wynn, his partner of eight years, said the circumstances of leaving the police made it difficult for Rogers to adjust to self-employment. She said he threw himself into gardening, but it was never as fulfilling as his work in the police.
The investigation had a huge impact on Rogers, and he spent all his time trying to defend himself. He stopped doing many things he enjoyed and put himself under a lot of pressure.
Although he appeared to be coping well, he was a very private person, and his mental health deteriorated when Wynn ended their relationship in the summer of 2022. Despite this, Rogers continued to stay with her at her home in Lytchett Matravers, near Poole, Dorset.
Michael Rogers joined Hertfordshire Police in 1988 and transferred to Dorset in 2001, where he oversaw major incidents. The investigation was initiated in July 2019, finding that he pocketed £4,300 in expenses between July 2015 and March 2019.
He claimed an allowance for using his personal vehicle to carry out duties while using police vehicles for work and private journeys. He also knowingly declared less private mileage than he had traveled and submitted claims for expenses such as meals that he had not incurred.
A misconduct hearing in November 2021 found that he breached standards of professional behavior relating to honesty and integrity, as well as orders and instructions, duties and responsibilities, and conduct.
The inquest heard that he had contacted his GP about his mental health in October 2020, during the investigation, but did not seek any further help at that stage.
In August 2021, following the breakdown of his relationship, he went to stay with his sister and made an unsuccessful suicide attempt on August 4. He then spoke to his GP, who referred him to the community mental health team (CMHT) on August 5, and returned to living with Wynn.
On August 6, his two daughters became concerned and took him to The Retreat, a mental health support service. However, he refused to go to A&E to be fully assessed.
When Wynn returned home on August 11, she found that Rogers had conducted concerning research. He felt let down and abandoned by mental health services and thought that he was just a tick box, and nobody cared.
He promised Wynn that he would not do anything stupid, and she felt he would be okay when she left the house in the mornings.
When his daughters were unable to contact him, they phoned Wynn, who went home to find his body in the garage. A suicide note was later found in the kitchen.
The inquest in Bournemouth continues. The tragic case highlights the importance of addressing mental health issues within the workplace and of seeking help and support during difficult times. For confidential support, one can call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.