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Man shot dead by Sussex Police 'missed his sick wife'
A husband who was shot dead by police, brandished a gun and threatened to kill himself after he was told he could not look after his sick wife.
Mervyn Tussler, 64, begged social workers “bring back my Winnie” after he phoned a hospital to say he was going to take his own life, an inquest was told yesterday.
Mr Tussler then pointed a firearm at a warden of the retirement village where he lived when she came to check if he was ok.
She called 999 and Mr Tussler was shot dead by police inside his home in Fernhurst, three hours later on May 8, 2009.
A jury inquest at the Chatsworth Hotel, in Worthing, was told how Mr Tussler, a member of Hedley Park Shooting Club and a Wild West enthusiast, did not think his life was worth living after social workers told him his wife of 13 years would not return home.
At a Strategy Meeting on May 6, professionals from the Royal Surrey Hospital where Mrs Tussler was being treated said she needed more care than her husband could provide.
On hearing the news, Mr Tussler, who had been her registered carer for the last ten years, became upset and pointed his finger around the room saying: “I never forget faces and I never forgive.”
Senior social worker Suzanne Phillips, who was at the meeting, said: “He just wanted to take his wife home, to look after her by himself without the interference of anyone else, that was his main objective.”
Judith Whawell, a warden at the Ash Grove complex where the couple had lived, said Mrs Tussler had been spending more time in hospital due to a long-term brain injury and more recently a clot which had developed on her lungs.
Ms Whawell added: “He did not handle her being in hospital well; in fact he kind of broke down.”
She added: “He did not want her to go into a nursing home; he was quite independent and thought he could handle his own wife.”
Mr Tussler’s son, Matthew Tussler, said his father appeared “unshaven and withdrawn” when Winnie was away.
Two days after being told his wife would probably never return home, Mr Tussler phoned the Royal Surrey Hospital to tell them to say goodbye to Winnie because he was going to kill himself.
The hospital immediately phoned Lynn Fee, one of the social workers involved with the Tusslers.
Ms Fee told the inquest: “When I asked what I could do to make things better he said bring back Winnie.”
Meanwhile Ms Whawell had called at the home at 11.20am and Mr Tussler had answered the door holding a gun which he pointed in her face.
She said: “He told me if Winnie is not here there is no point in me being here.”
Ms Whawell added that after she told Mr Tussler she was afraid he would take his own life he replied: “I don't know if it will be now or later but I will. My life is not worth living without my wife. No Government department is taking my wife away from me.”
Sussex Police were called and armed officers surrounded the house at about 12.20pm.
Officers broke down the front door at 2.05pm and sent in a police dog. When the dog was unable to find anyone, four officers went in and began to search the property.
Jurors will be asked to decide if what happened next might have been “suicide by cop” or an unlawful police killing.
The inquest continues.