A Coroner’s Inquest on 3 April into the death of Francis Xavier Delessio ended with the jury finding that the 49-year-old’s death was the result of suicide.
Mr. Delessio was an American citizen working as a consultant for Sagicor General at the time of his death. He lived in Grand Cayman with his wife and children. On 3 March, 2009, he was found unresponsive in a bathtub at his home with both his wrists cut.
In determining the cause of death, jurors were asked to rule if the event was the result of one of several scenarios, which included misadventure, natural causes and suicide. The option of an open verdict was also available to jurors.
The state of mind of the person at the time of death was to be crucial in the juror’s finding, according to Acting Magistrate Eileen Nervik, who instructed the group before its deliberations.
Evidence given in the matter revealed that Mr. Delessio was under the care of several doctors for various conditions in the years prior to his death. He was receiving treatment for depression, pain and anxiety since about 2005.
Dr. Mark Lockhart testified that he had been seeing Mr. Delessio with regard to “debilitating anxiety,” which was first diagnosed in 1995. He was also experiencing sleep problems and pain from a leg injury. In February of 2009, the doctor said Mr. Delessio was seen by him after he was increasing consumption of his pain medication. He said he referred him to another physician for pain management but he did not keep his appointments and had began drinking. Doctor Lockhart said Mr. Delessio’s wife called him on 4 March with details of her husband’s death.
Dr. Clarence Charles also testified that had been seeing Mr. Delessio for cluster headaches, recurrent ankle problems, gas pains, anxiety, depression, panic attacks and skin problems.
The court also heard from other witnesses that Mr. Delessio had fallen in the stairwell of the Harbour Centre building and was knocked unconscious. He was said to be suffering from the effects of this for months.
On the day of his death, Mr. Delessio was in an automobile accident during the morning hours. Several witnesses who lived in the home with him testified that he left home in the morning around 10am when he was supposed to be dropping his stepdaughter to school, as she was going in late due to a back pain. Instead, Mr. Delessio left his wallet and phone at home and drove in the direction of the Eastern side of the Island, crashing into a large truck in the Bodden Town area.
Detective Inspector Burton of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service testified that it was believed that the car accident was actually a first attempt at suicide because, “There was no apparent reason for him to swerve into an oncoming truck.”
After being seen at the George Town Hospital for injuries relating to the accident, which were not serious, the court heard that Mr. Delessio was picked up by his wife and her friend and dropped off at his home.
Written testimony from the children in the home revealed that he went to his room after smoking a cigarette and was not heard from or seen again. Upon returning home in the evening his wife pried the room door open. She realised that the bathroom door was also locked and used a screw driver to open the door.
There she said she found Mr. Delessio in the bathtub with both his wrists slit and an orange box cutter around the area.
Dr. Shravana Jyoti, who conducted the autopsy, testified that the cause was haemorrhage as the result of massive external bleeding as a consequence of cut wounds to both wrists. He said a clinical history of depression, anxiety and insomnia, as well as past suicidal attempts, past trauma to the head and chronic pain were all contributing factors.
The state of mind of the person at the time of death was to be crucial in the juror’s finding.