Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 12:16 UK

Man shot himself over Madoff loss

Major Bill Foxton
The retired Army officer had worked in Oman, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo

A retired soldier shot himself in the head after losing his life savings in the Bernard Madoff investment scandal.

Bill Foxton, 65, was found in a park in Southampton on 10 February, an inquest held in the city heard.

Mr Foxton, who had placed nearly £1m in two hedge funds which had in turn invested the money with Madoff, left suicide notes referring to his losses.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Keith Wiseman described the former major's death as "absolutely tragic".

Madoff is awaiting sentencing in the US after admitting a $50bn (£31bn) fraud.

At the inquest, Det Sgt Paul Gelman, of Hampshire police, explained that Mr Foxton had served with the French Foreign Legion before joining the British Army.

He went on to work for the Sultan of Oman as a military adviser.

Mr Gelman said that the note left at Mr Foxton's Southampton home for his wife, Roberta, explained that he was going to commit suicide because of his financial losses.

He (my father) was brought low by the greed of Bernie Madoff
Mr Foxton's son, Willard

Mr Wiseman said: "Mr Foxton could not tolerate what he would have regarded as the shame of being in financial difficulties.

"He referred to financial difficulties in the note, in particular to some difficulties arising from what has become known as the American Madoff scandal."

Speaking of Mr Foxton's military past, Mr Wiseman added: "He was very much a larger-than-life character.

"He had worked in various military fields and the latter part of his life had been spent with non-government organisations in areas such as Kosovo and other areas of the Middle East helping people who were in grave difficulties because of conflict."

The inquest also heard that Mr Foxton was a member of the British bobsleigh team in the 1972 European Championships.

At the time of his death, his son Willard said that his father was distraught after losing his family's entire savings in the investment scam.

Willard Foxton, 28, from London, said on his blog site that Madoff had "blood on his hands" over the death of his father, who had two grandchildren.

"He (my father) was brought low by the greed of Bernie Madoff," he wrote.

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