A PROMINENT businessman found dead in his garden shed drank himself to death, an inquest has heard.

But a coroner recorded an open verdict on John Lazenby despite him leaving a note for his two sons apologising for "making a mess" and encouraging them to do well for themselves.

Coroner Michael Singleton said that, despite the hand written note, he could not be sure that Mr Lazenby, a self-employed salesman, who lived in Church Brow, Clitheroe, with his sons James and Matthew, had intended to bring about his own demise.

James told the inquest that in recent years he could see that his father had been "pretty down." He said his father's business had not been doing as well as it used to but it was not through lack of effort on his part.

"That's just the way business was," said James who revealed that his father had been to see his doctor twice over the Christmas period but had told him why.

On January 29 James got up and found his father had left things out for him to make a cup of tea. He assumed he was still in bed and it was not until the afternoon that he discovered he wasn't in the house.

James eventually found the hand written note and Mr Lazenby's body was discovered in the garden shed. There was a half empty bottle of whisky by his side. James said his father had not said or done anything to suggest he might harm himself.

In the note, which was read to the inquest, Mr Lazenby said he had made a mess and said he could not face the problems.

He said he did not know what to say to his sons. He told them to sell the house and move on.

It concluded: "Do well, I know you will. Mum will look after you better than I would. I love you both."

A post-mortem examination report revealed a moderately fatty liver which can arise from chronic ingestion of alcohol. The medical cause of death was given as alcohol toxicity.