A RETIRED man took his own life after being advised to plead guilty to indecency charges, an inquest was told yesterday.

Widower Joseph Harbisher was found hanging by nylon cord on a landing at the home where he lived alone, last Thursday.

His son, Neville, who found the body of the former steelworker when visiting the house, in Deneside, Lanchester, County Durham, said his father was "downhearted" after a visit to see his solicitor two days earlier.

His father, charged with two offences of indecent assault against a girl, told him he had been advised to plead guilty, as there was "new evidence" against him, but he was unaware what form that took.

Mr Harbisher, jnr, of Pittington, near Durham, told the hearing in Durham: "I would like to know why he has done this. He has been under an awful lot of pressure.

"He was happy on the Monday, and as far as I know he was under stress on the Tuesday," he said.

Solicitor Verity Jane Dobbie said she had originally given Mr Harbisher, snr, "certain advice" but additional evidence emerged, and in last Tuesday's conference with a barrister, the advice to plead guilty represented a change in approach.

But she said when he left her office at 6.50pm she had no concern that he would harm himself.

North Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle said despite the evidence presented at the hearing relating to the "unpleasant charges" against Mr Harbisher snr, he was not a guilty person as the matter had still to go to trial.

He recorded a verdict of suicide