Boss worried about Covid-19 impact on York firms took own life

A MUCH-LOVED York businessman killed himself while worried about Covid-19’s impact on his firms, an inquest heard.

Richard Baines’ devastated family said his death was “a warning to watch out for those exceptional people who seem to care for everyone else above themselves.”

The inquest heard that the founder of Autohorn Fleet Services and other businesses hadn’t given his wife Frances or anyone close to him any reason for concern.

The weekend before he died, he had enjoyed his 52nd birthday celebrations and three hours after he chatted positively to his wife on the phone on June 2, a farmer found his body in a field off Naburn Road.

Acting senior coroner for York, Jon Heath, recorded a finding that Mr Baines had taken his own life.

In a statement after the inquest, the family said: “Today has been very difficult.

“Nothing can prepare you for the devastation when someone takes their own life.

“This year has been very tough for everyone and we knew Richard was finding it hard, however we were not aware that he had been suffering so much in silence and so it was a total shock.

“It’s a warning to watch out for those exceptional people who seem to care for everyone else above themselves.

“Those strong, solid dependable people – they are vulnerable too.

“Nothing can bring him back and so we are focusing on remembering him the way he would want us to.

“He was an incredible person, his beloved family and friends were always at the centre of his world.

“He had so much love and we have so many wonderful memories and experiences, which we treasure more than ever now.”

In a note to his wife, found near his body, Mr Baines urged her to concentrate on remembering their good times together and not the months from March to June this year.

They were together for more than 30 years, the inquest heard.

In her statement to the inquest, Mrs Baines said her husband had been stressed from March about the economic effect of coronavirus and whether his firm would survive.

But he hadn’t shown any signs of mental ill health and he and the family had started preparations for post-coronavirus life.

The weekend before he died, the family celebrated Mr Baines’ 52nd birthday at a barbecue. He also played golf with one of his sons.

*If life is difficult you can call Samaritans any hour, any day, on the free phone number 116 123, email them at, or visit

York Press | News