A MAN given only a slim chance of surviving cancer shot himself with a revolver, an inquest heard today.

Michael Stephenson, 63, from Darlington, had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and was told that without an operation he would live two years at the most and with surgery only stood a 30 per cent chance of living five years or more.

His wife, Susan, of Elton Grove, told the inquest that on the day of his death on Friday, December 14, her husband had received a letter asking him to attend pre-surgery tests at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

She said he had been very worried that the surgery would go wrong, after an unsuccessful prostrate operation and he was also frightened of complications.

She told the Bishop Auckland inquest: "I was aware that he always had strong feelings about his quality of life and if at any point he felt his quality of life wasn't going to be good enough then he hoped he would be able to do something about it."

Mr Stephenson, who last worked as a clock and watch repairer before retiring, was plagued by ill health and had arthritis, diabetes and prostate problems.

Four days before his death he also had shingles.

On Friday she returned to her home after visiting a friend's house and noticed an orange blanket at the bottom of her garden, which her husband had wrapped himself in before shooting himself with a revolver.

South Durham and Darlington Coroner Colin Penna concluded that Mr Stephenson had taken his own life.