THE founder of multi-million-pound haircare firm ghd was found dead by his wife after taking his own life, an inquest has heard.
Martin Penny, whose company’s ceramic straighteners were used by stars including Madonna, had been fighting a battle with insomnia and anxiety. He was hospitalised after a manic episode in March last year.
And during his treatment, doctors discovered he had serotonin syndrome, a rare condition that may have been triggered by medicines that raise levels of the ‘happy chemical’ in the brain.
His wife Diana said she felt she had been given insufficient warning over how mood-altering drugs might affect her husband. And Mr Penny’s sister Barbara said: ‘He had anxiety all his life. He had never talked about suicide ever until he took those drugs.’
After leaving hospital, Mr Penny, 63, went on holiday to France, where he slept well and ‘returned to his usual self’. But on June 17 last year he told his wife he had tried to take his life. Later that day he went for a walk and tried to drown himself. She found him hanged in the bedroom of their home in Denton, North Yorkshire, the next day.
Mrs Penny said her husband had been forced out of ghd, leading to an expensive court battle. Psychiatrist Dr John Nehaul said Mr Penny had scored 21 out of 21 on an anxiety scale and 20 out of 21 for depression. The entrepreneur, said to be worth £50million in 2016, feared bankruptcy after mistakes with a property purchase, he added.
Coroner Rob Turnbull gave a suicide verdict at the Harrogate inquest. He said he shared Mrs Penny’s concerns about the drugs but added: ‘They may have had an effect but we cannot say that they did.’