- Inquest heard father of three was disappointed at not getting promotion
- His wife tells his inquest he would not dream of leaving her three sons
- Mr Bushnell's body was found on a beach in Co Durham on March 22
Mark Bushnell, the deputy headmaster of the prestigious Durham School, who was found dead on a beach in County Durham in March this year
The death of a deputy headmaster of a prestigious boarding school remains a mystery because ‘he had everything to live for’, an inquest heard yesterday.
Mark Bushnell, 50, who worked at Durham School, left his family home on March 9 but he never returned and his body was found washed up on a beach weeks later.
An inquest heard the married father-of-three had been ‘disappointed’ about being overlooked for a position as head of the £25,000-a-year school where he worked, but had accepted it and moved on.
Speaking at Crook Coroner’s Court yesterday, his wife, Joanna, 48, said he would not dream of leaving her or their three sons, Jacob, 18, Nathan, 14, and Jonathan, 12.
She said: ‘We were married for 29 years and we were still very much in love. He had so much to live for. He loved his job and he loved his boys and we had plans for the future. He would not dream of intentionally hurting or leaving us.
‘I could bring you in an army of people who could give you examples of why this is. This has obviously been dreadful for us and we can make no sense of it. It’ s just unfathomable.’
The family lived together at their £330,000 semi-detached home in Durham. Mr Bushnell left their home on a Sunday, March 9th, with a boot full of washing to take to the launderette as their washing machine had broken down.
His locked car was found abandoned hours later at a beauty spot on the east Durham coast, with the washing still in the boot.
A member of the public found Mr Bushnell’s body on a nearby beach close to Blackhall Rocks, where his car was discovered, a few weeks later on March 22.
Detective Inspector David Cuthbert told the inquest how he had been spotted walking along the cliff side staring into the distance but was reported to have been ‘behaving normally’.
He said: ‘When we found the body we had no explanation for his disappearance.’
Det Insp Cuthbert said police had looked into claims Mr Bushnell had been ‘disappointed’ about not being given a job as head of Durham School but had found no explanation as to why Mr Bushnell would have killed himself.
He added: ‘We were aware that the headship job was about to be made available, there was some talk about Mark being disappointed about being overlooked for the position.’
He said the job at the school had been Mark’s ‘life, together with his family’. He added: ‘He had a love for the school and what it stood for.
‘But people close to Mark said categorically that that wasn’t the job for Mark and that he had accepted that.’
'He loved his job and he loved his boys': Speaking at Crook Coroner¿s Court yesterday, Mr Bushnell's wife, Joanna, 48, said he would not dream of leaving her or their sons, Jacob, 18, Nathan, 14, and Jonathan, 12
The inquest also heard how Mr Bushnell had previously had ‘an issue’ after moving from living within the school as a housemaster for 16 years, to then buying a property outside the grounds with his family to live in.
Cuthbert said: ‘He went from being a housemaster for 16 years to buying a house outside Durham City. That certainly had been an issue.’
But he said he understood that issue had been dealt with long ago.
Appointed deputy head of Durham School in July 2012, Mr Bushnell had worked at the school since 1993.
Police forensics removing Mr Bushnell's body from the beach at Blackhall Rocks, in County Durham
Recording an open verdict, coroner Andrew Tweddle told the court: ‘So much of what has been said to me paints a picture of an ordinary man, a man without problems, a man who we would all perhaps want to be.
‘But he left the family home and drove to the coast, where he died. For a normal, ordinary man that doesn’t seem to make sense. I just don’t know what happened.’
He said he agreed with Mrs Bushnell that is was ‘unfathomable’. He said he ‘had so much to live for’, not only with his wife, but also with his job at the school.’