So desperate to clear payday loans – rugby player killed himself

A rugby player who started growing cannabis to pay back cash owed to payday loan companies killed himself after his home was burgled and the plants stolen.
Matthew Allott had amassed £17,000 in debt, including money from payday loans which were taken out by a friend on his behalf.
The 36-year-old was so desperate to pay back the money that he started growing marijuana plants in his home, hoping to raise £8,000 from selling the drug.

However, an inquest into the 36-year-old’s death heard how on the weekend the plants matured he came home after a party to find they had been stolen in a break-in, and his dog had vanished.
Mr Allott sent a text message to a friend saying ‘been robbed’, and then told him on the phone: ‘Someone’s stolen my plants and the dog’s gone.’

Mr Allott played centre for Rotherham Phoenix rugby union team and before that spent 16 seasons with Rawmarsh Warriors where he was the second highest try scorer of all time.
Friend Catherine Reilly told the inquest in Rotherham that the solar panel fitter had been struggling with money for the last 18 months and owed £17,000 prior to his death.
She then offered to borrow money from controversial payday loans companies, which sometimes charge interest rates of up 4,000 per cent, on his behalf.


Another rugby league player, Kenny Davis, 23, also hanged himself in January this year after secretly getting himself thousands of pounds into debt with payday loan companies.
Mr Davies was out of work yet was paying sums of around £400 a time after taking out arrangements with online loan firms which sometimes charge interest rates of up 4,000 per cent.
On the day of his death, Mr Davis had asked a neighbour to act as a guarantor for a £3,500 loan over 36 months. But the neighbour refused and Kenny was found dead in woods near his home in Swinton, near Salford, Greater Manchester, just 30 minutes later.
Paperwork relating to a loan agreement from an online lending company was found in his pocket.

And messages showing enquiries he made to payday loan firms involving sums between £400 and ‘substantial amounts’ were also discovered on his mobile phone.

In August 2012, debt-ridden father Antony Breeze  doused himself in petrol after he was harrassed for money by payday loan firms.

He had racked up debts of around £1,600.
The 36-year-old from Horwich, near Bolton, told passers-by who tried to extinguish the flames: ‘I’ve had enough’.
In the hours before the tragedy, Mr Breeze was bombarded with text messages about his arrears, an inquest heard, and was so worried about the debt that he lost a stone in weight in just two weeks.

Police investigating his death found he owed money to several lenders.

Mr Breeze was taken to hospital after he was found by a passer by but died hours later from 73 per cent burns.

She said in a statement: ‘I didn’t have any money to give him so suggested he get a payday loan. I took out the loans and let him pay me back. These loans continued through the last 18 months.’
The inquest heard Mr Allott once had nothing to eat so Ms Reilly bought him £50 of food, and also bailed him out with cash when the bailiffs came knocking.
‘He was always worried about what other people thought about him,’ she said.

‘His friends had flash cars and splashed money about and he tried to keep up when he couldn’t afford it.’
The hearing was told that bailiffs had been pursuing him over a parking ticket, which had risen to £460 and he had talked about ending it all.
‘I told him off for talking like that for the sake of £460,’ said Ms Reilly.
‘He had been discussing declaring himself bankrupt when he hit upon the idea of growing cannabis – he called them “tomato plants” – to raise cash.
‘He was going to use the money from the sale of the plants to sort himself out.
‘He was planning to register himself bankrupt when his “tomato” plants were ready.’
The inquest was told that Mr Allott hoped to raise £8,000 from the sale of the cannabis, and wanted to use the that cash to repay a debt he owed involving a paving business.

He gave Ms Reilly £330 towards a payday loan repayment just two days before his body was found on Monday, March 11 at his home on Bevan Place, Rawmarsh, South Yorkshire, the hearing was told.

‘He was relying on the cash from the plants to get his life back on track,’ she said.

‘I just realised how helpless he must have felt.’
Another friend Christopher Webb said Mr Allott had been in good spirits when he attended Mr Webb’s wedding reception on March 9, and that he had played for Phoenix that afternoon.
‘He was a bit merry but not falling all over,’ Mr Webb said.

‘It was a good night out and we all had a good laugh.’

Mr Allott, who lived alone, returned home in the early hours of Sunday to find his back door had been kicked in and his house burgled.

His friend Anthony O’Donnell found his body on Monday morning when he did not turn up for a lift to work.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Lisa Yates said the house was clean and tidy except for cannabis leaves strewn up the stairs.

The four mature plants growing in pots in the loft had been cut off at the roots.
‘Stealing cannabis is quite lucrative and we are seeing it more and more,’ she said.
‘Matthew pinned all his hopes on selling the cannabis as being the answer to his financial problems.’

Rotherham coroner Nicola Mundy said Mr Allott was very well-liked, popular and had a large circle of friends.
‘He was employed but he did struggle with money problems which was a burden to him,’ she said.

‘His long-standing debts played on his mind and caused him anxiety.’
Recording a verdict of suicide she added: ‘I think matters had simply got too much for him.’
For confidential support on suicide matters call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch. 
For confidential support on debt matter and payday loan debt management call Humber Debt Solutions on 0800 915 5371 or 01482 225812.
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