Welsh Government Lawyer Who Wrote Covid Laws Took His Own Life After Struggling With Work Pressure

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A Welsh government lawyer who was responsible for writing Covid laws killed himself after struggling with added work pressures and the effects of the pandemic lockdowns, an inquest heard.

Father-of-two Owain Vaughan Morgan, 44, was found dead in Cardiff woodland on April 14 last year after he was reported missing by his wife.

Coroner Gaynor Kynaston told the court that Mr Morgan, of Cyncoed, Cardiff, had suffered with “acute” mental health problems related to the stress of work and low self-esteem. She recorded a conclusion of suicide.

The court heard that he had not suffered depression until 2020.

Wales Online reports: In a statement at an inquest into his death at Pontypridd Coroners’ Court Mr Morgan’s wife Catherine, with whom he has two children, described him as a “family person” who enjoyed reading and loved being outdoors and going for walks. Though she said he had a tendency to worry she described his personality as “calm and collected” and he had no history of being anxious or depressed until 2020.

In January 2020 Mr Morgan was promoted to his first managerial role as a lawyer with the Welsh Government. The inquest heard he found the job very difficult and stressful with long hours. Mr Morgan also found it difficult to work from home when the pandemic started with the result that he suffered a nervous breakdown in May 2020, experiencing panic attacks and shaking at his work computer. His role had involved writing Covid legislation, the hearing was told.

Following this Mr Morgan was prescribed anti-depressants and signed off work. His GP, Huw Davies, described how over several months Mr Morgan’s mental health was monitored and he was given support, including being signposted to cognitive behavioural therapy. But his mental health reached a crisis point on February 23, 2021, when he made an attempt on his own life. He was admitted to University Hospital Llandough later that day and he was signed off work.

Dr Ann-Marie Dunsby, Mr Morgan’s psychiatrist, noted that he struggled with thoughts that he was a burden to his family and felt he was not good enough. He was also worried occupational health would find him unfit to go back to work and he was concerned about the financial consequences if he were to lose his job, the inquest heard.

After being discharged from hospital Mr Morgan’s mental health worsened again and on April 13 last year his wife reported him missing to police after he left home that morning. Recalling the time he left she said he waved at her as she watched him through the window, adding that he “seemed normal” and “did not seem any different to a typical morning”.

Evidence submitted by South Wales Police constable Andrew Harvey and sergeant Jonathan Edwards said after a search that had started the night before Mr Morgan was located on April 14 at approximately 11.30am in a dense wooded area off Lisvane Road and Maerdy Lane in Lisvane. It was clear that he was dead and an ambulance was requested. Senior paramedic Lisa O’Sullivan added he was declared dead at 12.02pm.

Niamh Harris
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