Peter Roebuck inquest: Cricketer took his own life amid sexual assault probe

Peter Roebuck
Image caption,Peter Roebuck played for Somerset from 1974 to 1991, and also captained the county side

A former cricketer arrested on suspicion of sexual assault was “in despair” before being found dead in South Africa, an inquest has heard.

Cricket journalist and ex-Somerset captain Peter Roebuck, 55, died in November 2011 in Cape Town, while working as a commentator.

Mr Roebuck had allegedly assaulted a 26-year-old man in his hotel room, Cheshire Coroner’s Court heard.

The inquest concluded Mr Roebuck had taken his own life 13 years ago.

The batsman, from Wirral, played for Somerset from 1974 to 1991 and captained the county side, was a former summariser with BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.

The Sydney Morning Herald columnist was staying at the Southern Sun hotel to commentate on a match between Australia and South Africa.

The inquest, held on Friday, heard Mr Roebuck had allegedly sexually assaulted a 26-year-old man in his room on 7 November, when they arranged to meet to discuss whether he could financially support the student through university.

A complaint was made to the police on 12 November, and officers went to Mr Roebuck’s hotel to arrest him that evening.

In a statement, commentator Jim Maxwell, a friend of Mr Roebuck’s who worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said he received a call late that evening asking him to go to his room.

Mr Maxwell, who was staying on the same floor of the hotel, said he went into the room after being greeted by a police officer and saw his friend sitting on the bed.

“He was totally in despair,” he said.

He said Mr Roebuck asked him to contact people at his home and told him he needed a lawyer, before police then asked him to leave.

‘In control of himself’

In a statement, arresting officer Det Aubrey McDonald said: “Peter Roebuck mentioned he was well known in the cricket fraternity and that his arrest will be front-page news worldwide.”

Mr McDonald said he stepped outside the hotel room to make a phone call and heard his colleague Lt Cecil Jacobs shouting at Mr Roebuck.

An incident then took place which resulted in Mr Roebuck’s death, the inquest heard.

Mr McDonald said: “At the time of the incident the deceased appeared very calm and in control of himself.”

The court heard post-mortem examinations carried out in South Africa and the UK both found the cause of Mr Roebuck’s death was multiple injuries.

The same cause of death was recorded at an inquest held in South Africa, which was not attended by family members.

Dr Matthew Lyall, the forensic pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination in the UK, said in his report: “There were no findings to specifically suggest that a third party was directly involved in any of the injuries, but the involvement of a third party cannot be ruled out solely on the basis of the pathological findings.”

Concluding the inquest, senior coroner for Cheshire, Jacqueline Devonish, thanked family members who had attended court.

She said: “I’m sorry the case has taken such a long time for us to progress, but it was in part waiting to find out about a renewed hearing in South Africa which hasn’t come to pass.”

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