Man found hanging in church grounds

A Mytholmroyd man was found hanging from a tree in the grounds of a Halifax church last Saturday.

Gordon Gray, 28, is thought to have hung himself in the memorial garden of Halifax Parish Church.

The father of two had been living with his sister Vivienne at her home on Banksfield Crescent since his release from prison in March.

Vivienne said her family has been torn apart by his death, nearly two years to the day after her brother Glynn was killed in a car crash on Heights Road, Hebden Bridge.

“Words cannot express how shocked and sad I am at losing Gordon,” she said.

“To lose one brother is like a horrible nightmare. To lose two is like somebody has ripped your heart out.”

Miss Gray said Gordon had turned to Christianity while serving time in prison.

She said “He was baptised in prison and stopped taking drugs. It was a turning point for him but he was still struggling to change his lifestyle.

“He went St Michael’s Church Mytholmroyd, and also spent a great deal of time at Halifax Parish Church, so it makes sense that he chose to die there.”

Gordon leaves two young daughters, India and Skye.

He was last seen by his brother Lawrence last Friday morning, and Miss Gray said the family knew he was not acting like himself.

“He suffered from panic attacks and we had been in and out of Calderdale Royal Hospital asking for help. He had treatment for depression after he cut his wrists last month,” she said.

Gordon had been prescribed anti-depressants after visiting the hospital’s accident and emergency department on a number of occasions.

But Miss Gray believes not enough was done to help him following his release from prison, saying her brother had actually asked to be sectioned more than once.

A spokeswoman for South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust said: “This was a tragic event and the trust offers every sympathy to the family and others affected.

“We are looking into the circumstances and will be contacting the family to offer support and information.”

Miss Gray, 23, said: “My family are very shocked about what has happened, it is almost two years to the day that we lost Glynn.”

Glynn, who lived on Neale Street, Hebden Bridge, had changed his name to Pennington and was also 28 when he died.

He suffered serious head injuries when he lost control of his Vauxhall Astra and crashed into a wall on May 6 2003.

Miss Gray said her other brothers James, 27, Lawrence, 25 and Wayne, 15, were all traumatised by the events of the last two years.

Gordon, a former pupil of Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, had been hailed a hero when at the age of 12 he rescued his sister and brothers from a house fire at the family home.

But as a teenager he started taking drugs and turned to petty crime.

In 2002 he was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to four years in prison.

Miss Gray said: “He became a changed man in prison and decided to put his life straight through religion.

“We have never been a particularly religious family but Gordon became very involved with the church.

“They helped him more than any anti-depressants and hospitals could ever do and I am grateful that he had that.”

Gordon had a good knowledge of fitness and had applied to the Prince’s Trust for funding to set up a gym class for children from the Banksfield estate.

“He wanted to get kids off the street and help them avoid the troubles he found himself in,” said Miss Gray.

A talented dancer, he was in the process of applying for a college dance course.

Glynn’s partner Maggie Pennington said she admired Gordon for trying to turn his life around.

“He had obviously found his faith in God,” she said.

“He prayed for world peace on the Parish Church’s notice board. He just couldn’t find peace within himself.

“People are too quick to judge a man who has been in prison. People should be judged on the best things they do and not the worst. Gordon was a wonderful man.”

Gordon’s funeral will be held on Tuesday (May 3), with a service at Halifax Parish Church at 2.30pm followed by cremation at Park Wood, Elland, at 3.30pm.