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Carl Sargeant 'shellshocked' and 'destroyed' by allegations made against him, widow tells inquest

Credit: PA Images

Carl Sargeant was 'shellshocked' and 'destroyed' by allegations made against him, his widow has told an inquest.

Mr Sargeant was found hanged at his home in November 2017, four days after he was sacked following allegations of sexual harassment.

Giving evidence at the hearing in Ruthin, the former government minister's widow Bernie Sargeant said the couple had just returned from New York when Mr Sargeant received a phone call asking him to return to Cardiff for a cabinet reshuffle the next day.

Mrs Sargeant said it was unusual for a reshuffle to take place so soon after an election, there was always some anticipation around reshuffles, but her husband seemed OK.

Mr Sargeant caught the train to Cardiff early on the morning of 3 November 2017, and called his wife around lunchtime to say he'd been sacked.

Carl Sargeant had been sacked from his role as Welsh Government minister after allegations were made against him

He said 'I've been binned,' then he said something about allegations and I asked what he meant and he said 'I don't know. I have no idea.'

– Bernie Sargeant, widow of Carl Sargeant

Mrs Sargeant told the hearing she spoke to her husband several times that day and his voice changed - he became quiet and she was worried about him.

Looking back he was devastated. I think you could say anything to Carl - but with this involving women it was too much. Much of his legislation involved women - domestic violence.

He was shellshocked. He had no clear information of what he was supposed to have done and he just didn't know what to do.

– Bernie Sargeant, widow of Carl Sargeant

The court heard Mrs Sargeant, her son Jack, and daughter Lucy, travelled to Cardiff to be with Mr Sargeant in his flat. Mrs Sargeant said when she arrived her husband seemed "deflated".

"I can remember just looking at him and thinking he that even though he was a big man, he seem smaller. He seemed vastly different. He had got into bed and kept pulling the covers over him. He looked ashen and that wasn't like him. He said he felt he had let us down", she told the inquest.

Mrs Sargeant said she felt her husband hadn't been offered any support and had tried to contact the Labour party several times on the day he was sacked.

Coroner John Gittins asked if they sought any medical help.

I felt and still believe that if he had been given the information, he would have had something to process.

I did everything I thought, to the best of my ability. Me and the family never left his side. I don't know, I did what I thought Carl needed. He wasn't the sort of person to go to the doctor."

– Bernie Sargeant, widow of Carl Sargeant

On the morning of Mr Sargeant's death, Mrs Sargeant said she had woken up early, but then gone back to bed. When she went downstairs again she found a note on the utility room door telling her not to go in and to call the police. She found her husband on the floor, screamed for her daughter who knew CPR and called the emergency services.

Speaking of the note left by Mr Sargeant, Mrs Sargeant said she felt sad that he felt he had let the family down.

I never want this to happen to anyone, our kids have lost their dad. It's 609 days today. Lessons have to be learnt. It's not good enough to say he's not a minister anymore so there's no support network. It shouldn't have happened to us. There should have been some support.

– Bernie Sargeant, widow of Carl Sargeant