A 35-YEAR-OLD man who “had a lot of life to give” hanged himself in the gardens of a Sidcup church following a battle with depression.

“Wonderful” Lee Brooks, of Rowley Avenue, Sidcup, was found dead by a homeless man who was sleeping in woodland behind Holy Trinity Church, an inquest heard yesterday (Sept 3).

The reprographic operator's body was spotted hanging from a tree in the early hours of December 10 last year.

Stephen Lumb told the inquest at Croydon Coroners’ Court: “I remember waking up about four in the morning, there was something hanging by the side of me. It looked like a body.

“At the beginning I thought it might be a dummy, somebody trying to play a practical joke.”

Mr Lumb said he felt “physically sick” and took three cans of beer to Welling to beg for money to buy more alcohol and get the bus to Bexleyheath to report his discovery.

Before he arrived at the station police had been called to the body off Hurst Road at around 8.30am.

A couple of bottles of cider were found by his side.

Police traced the label back to Euro Food and Wine in Sidcup and CCTV showed a man matching Mr Brooks’ description buying the alcohol and 20 Marlboro cigarettes from the store in Station Road at 7.45pm the evening before.

A post-mortem examination ruled the cause of death to be heart failure due to suspension and tests showed a small amount of anti-depressants in his blood.

The inquest heard how the avid Millwall fan was diagnosed with depression following a break-up with his girlfriend and the death of his grandmother.

He was referred by his doctor to the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in October, last year, where he was prescribed medication to help him sleep.

On November 21 last year – less than three weeks before his death – Mr Brooks went missing and returned home to his parents with a suicide note.

Croydon Coroner’s Court heard how he said he could not go through with the hanging because of the effect it would have on his family.

Psychiatrist Dr Lewis saw him the following day and wanted him to be admitted to hospital.

She told the inquest: “He said he did not think it would be helpful “He claimed it was spur-of-the-moment and he was fine.”

Dr Lewis upped his dose of anti-depressants and his parents said they would look after him at home.

Speaking about the last time she saw Mr Brooks, a week before his death, Dr Lewis said: “I thought he was improving. The family were very supportive of him.”

Coroner Dr Roy Palmer recorded a verdict of suicide and passed on his condolences to the family who were gathered in court.

The Brooks family said in a statement: “Lee will be sadly missed, he was a wonderful person and had a lot of life to give but unfortunately for the reasons heard it was not meant to be.”