A man fatally shot himself two weeks after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Friends of Phil Woodhams said the thought of having an incurable illness and a short time to live was “too much to bear”.

The 58-year-old, described by customers of his garage in The Street, Poynings, West Sussex, as “pleasant and personable”, wrote his wife of 30-years Helen a note before shooting himself in the head.

The note said: “Sorry Helen I shot myself in the garden. I could not breathe. It’s all yours now. I’ve always loved you.”

A post-mortem revealed Mr Woodhams was suffering from lung cancer and had he not taken his own life, would have likely been dead within a fortnight of the February 3 tragedy.

Coroner’s officer Geoff Charnock, speaking after an inquest in Horsham on Wednesday, explained Mr Woodhams suffered a motorbike crash in June 2012, breaking his ribs.

He said he did not recover fully from this and so visited the doctor, who in mid-January this year diagnosed him with lung cancer.

A formal diagnosis was due on February 12.

Wife's trauma

But Mr Woodhams did not wait for this and instead took his own life.

On February 2, at 10.30pm Mr Woodhams went to bed.

Mr Charnock said: “His wife found him sitting on the bed coughing.

“He said he was going outside for some fresh air. At 6.30am the next day he was not in bed. There was a note.”

Mrs Woodhams, 54, called a friend, who called the police, and found thebody.

Immediately after Mr Woodhams’ death, Mrs Woodhams – who was yesterday too upset to speak – informed friends about the tragedy.

Biking enthusiast

A note on the internet said: “Garage proprietor Philip Woodhams tragically took his own life in the early hours of Sunday.

“It is thought that the knowledge of being diagnosed with terminal cancer and only having a very short time to live was too much to bear and was the sad cause to him ending his life.

“Known to all as ‘Phil from the garage’ he was a well-known character in the village of Poynings where he and his wife Helen have run the garage for the past 25 years.

“A very keen biking enthusiast, Phil was a highly respected member of the motorbike community and a well known figure locally.”

If you have been affected by suicide, please call The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

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