Man took own life after rape probe

THE heartbroken family of a former publican who committed suicide just one day after he was questioned by police on suspicion of rape has claimed he died an innocent man.

THE heartbroken family of a former publican who committed suicide just one day after he was questioned by police on suspicion of rape has claimed he died an innocent man.

Barry Crane plunged a knife into his chest in the garden of his remote home in Rattlesden, near Bury St Edmunds, in March of this year.

An inquest into his death yesterday ruled Mr Crane had taken his own life after detectives said notes from his daughter and former girlfriend found in his pocket were a "clear indication" of his intentions.

Police had arrested Mr Crane just two days before his death on suspicion of raping a 27-year-old woman in a lay-by on the A1120 on the outskirts of Pettaugh, near Debenham - but he was later released without charge.

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As a matter of procedure, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has now begun an investigation into the case.

Mr Crane's grieving family last night said they were convinced the allegations would have been dropped and spoke of their anguish since his death.

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Mr Crane's brother, Dale, told the EADT: "The whole family has been totally shocked and gobsmacked by Barry's death.

"We completely refute the allegations, we know that Barry is innocent and this is something we will always maintain.

"All his friends and family miss him terribly. We are still very shocked by the whole situation and we are struggling to come to terms with his death."

Speaking after the inquest, investigating officer, Det Insp David Skevington, said: "Suffolk police always work on a policy that a man is innocent until proven guilty.

"Our investigations into the allegation will remain open and we will investigate any leads or new information that come to light."

He said Mr Crane's death was originally treated as a crime but stressed: "We are now happy there was no third party involvement at all and the case has now come to a conclusion."

Father-of-one Mr Crane, 49, worked as a HGV driver for Bury firm Ridleys after a long career running pubs throughout Suffolk.

His brother, who lives in Scotland, said: "Barry has always been a hard working man who loved his job at Ridleys. He was a publican in the area for most of his life and he therefore became a well-known member of many communities.

"He was a gentle giant who would help anyone who was in trouble. He was a loving father, son and brother and was married for ten years, after which he remained good friends with his ex-wife.

"He enjoyed the simple things in life like football, walking his dogs, good food and music. His funeral at the West Suffolk Crematorium in May showed how popular he was - attended by many friends who hadn't seen Barry for a number of years."

The inquest heard that a post mortem into Mr Crane's death found he had died from a stab wound to the chest.

Det Insp Skevington said a thorough police investigation - including interviewing more than 25 witnesses - had ruled out any third party involvement.

He told the inquest: "Two days before his death, Mr Crane had been arrested following an allegation made against him. He spent some of the next day in custody at Bury but was released without charge while police continued their relevant inquiries.

"Mr Crane had started a relationship with a women but there had been a breakdown of the relationship after she had begun seeing a work colleague of Mr Crane's.

"We know that on the day of his death, Mr Crane had travelled to Nottingham and had made a phone call to this woman and we have the details of that telephone call.

"In the hours leading up to his death, we are unsure what happened but we believe he was travelling back to Suffolk."

Giving a verdict of suicide, Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said: "Mr Crane was seen medically during his brief time in custody and there was no suspicion he was at risk of self harm. There was nothing out of the ordinary and no outward sign as to what was to take place."

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