Stonyhurst College 'voyeur' took his own life after learning he was to face charges

Neil Riley was under investigation by police

Neil Riley was under investigation by police

First published in News
Last updated
Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Crime reporter

A nurse killed himself when he realised he was likely to face voyeurism charges and lose his job, an inquest heard.

He is said to have set up a hidden camera in a bedroom to spy on staff at Stonyhurst College, one of the most prestigious Catholic boarding schools in the country.

A few feet away from where his body was found at his home in Great Harwood, Neil Riley had placed a piece of paper listing his bail conditions on a chest of drawers.

East Lancashire Coroner Michael Singleton said the 54-year-old was arrested just five days before he was found dead by detectives.

The two officers had visited his home in Walmsley Street after concerns had been expressed by the school when they had had no contact with him for several days.

DC Jane Lawrenson said: “At 5.30pm on November 16, last year I attended an address on Walmsley Street in Great Harwood on a welfare check.

“Neil had been arrested on November 11 on suspicion of voyeurism offences and concerns had been raised by Stonyhurst College after they had not heard from him in a number of days.

“When we arrived the house was in darkness. After checking with neighbours we forcibly entered the house.

“I discovered Neil in the front upstairs bedroom.

“There was no suicide note but on a chest of drawers close by was his bail sheet.

“It was very likely he was going to be charged with the offences and I believe he knew that.”

Mr Riley was arrested for setting up a hidden camera in a bedroom at Stonyhurst College, which has annual fees of up to £22,000, police said.

Officers were called in to the Hurst Green college after concerns were raised by staff.

It is thought four female staff may have been targeted, police said.

Mr Riley was on bail pending an examination of the cameras seized by police along with other computer equipment.

During the hearing, the coroner told Mr Riley’s family a post mortem examination confirmed the cause of death as hanging.

Mr Singleton, said: “It would have been as quick as switching out the light and it would of been pain-free.”

Mr Riley’s estranged wife Yvonne Riley, a teacher, also gave evidence at the inquest.

She said her husband was born in Burnley and was an avid gardener, artist, bird watcher and cook.

She said: “He was a dedicated nurse who cared for many people throughout his life. He loved his job and people respected him.

“He had worked at Stonyhurst for eight years and in the last few weeks of his life he did not seem depressed to me.

“Neil could be a closed book, who kept things close to his chest. I had no idea about the trouble he was in.

“I think if he knew he would lose his job it would be enough to push him to take his own life.”

The coroner delivered a verdict of suicide.

Mr Singleton said: “Mr Riley was found at his home in Walmsley Street, Great Harwood.

“He cannot have had any expectation about anyone coming to his rescue. I am also told it was very likely he would have been charged with voyeurism which would of undoubtedly of cost him his position.

“The tragedy and the problem of being a private person is being unable to share a problem.

“If he had spoken to family and friends he would have known he had lots of support.”

Police said they were working very closely with the college to identify victims but there had been no suggestion any of the children at the college have been in any way physically abused.

A Stonyhurst College spokeswoman said social services had been informed of the situation and staff, parents and pupils had been offered support after the investigation.

Mr Riley joined the college as a nurse in 2005 and was involved in the college’s combined cadet force, where he had been promoted to captain.

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