A “LOVING, caring” father who wrongly believed he had cancer took the decision to end his life in woodland, an inquest has heard.

Paul Cuniff lived with a “long history of depression” and received counselling and medication to support him through his lifelong mental health problems.

The former care worker, from Hartlepool, was reported missing at around 9.30am on June 26 after contacting his family and fiancée through text messages and phone calls in the 24 hours leading up to his disappearance.

An inquest held at Teesside Coroner’s Court heard yesterday that the 43-year-old's relatives were concerned for his welfare after he unusually failed to return to the family home.

Cleveland Police joined a search for Mr Cuniff, who was last seen by his parents at around 7.45am on June 26 and was known to visit Hartlepool Marina and Seaton areas in times of crisis.

Senior Coroner for Teesside, Clare Bailey, was told that he had explained to his mother that morning that he believed he had prostate cancer before he left his parents’ house.

Mr Cuniff’s body was found by his son at around 12pm on June 27 after searching Crimdon Dene, County Durham.

A post mortem discovered that he did not have cancer, however a pathologist confirmed there was ten times the amount of what he would expect of a therapeutic dose of a painkiller present in his system.

Speaking at the inquest in Middlesbrough Town Hall, Ms Bailey said: “Paul took himself to a remote area – not easily accessible – to make it difficult for him to be found or disturbed.”

She added: “I am satisfied that Paul not only made the decision to take his own life, but he took deliberate action to do so.”

Ms Bailey concluded Mr Cuniff’s death was a result of suicide.