A South Oxhey father had got into “substantial money problems” and was in debt to violent people at the time he was found dead in woodland, an inquest heard.

Witnesses described how Paul Taylor, who was “well-loved” on the estate, had been attacked over a debt previously and had been overheard pleading on the phone over a repayment before he went missing.

Hertfordshire Coroner’s Court heard the 47-year-old market stall-holder left a note to his family before disappearing in June. His body was found a month later, on July 4, by dog walkers in Oxhey Woods.

Coroner Edward Solomons recorded a verdict of suicide by asphyxiation.

A few days before his disappearance, Mr Taylor was seen talking on the phone and was overheard saying: “I will get the money, I will get the money.”

Another witness said Mr Taylor, of Otley Way, needed hospital treatment after having his jaw broken by travellers over money he owed in connection with horses he owned.

On June 13, the last day he was seen, Mr Taylor gave his neighbour £1,600, telling him someone would be around in the evening to pick it up.

The inquest heard Mr Taylor had also been struggling with depression and drug dependency leading up to his disappearance.

A toxicology report found evidence of heroin use in the days prior to Mr Taylor’s death.

The coroner was told Mr Taylor had previously told doctors he felt he “had no purpose in life” and would often go to sleep not wanting to wake up.

His daughter Daisy said her father had become “unhappy and unstable” after his cousin died suddenly in April.

PC Daniel Stoddart told the inquest the family realised he was missing after his son discovered a note in his flat. The note read: “Sorry kids. Love you all. See you always. Be with you watching you.”

The coroner heard how Mr Taylor displayed a “positive side” when he raised money for an elderly cleaner at South Oxhey police station who had been a victim of fraud.

Coroner Edward Solomons said that while Mr Taylor was “undoubtedly in trouble with the police on many occasions” he was also “well loved on the estate and had a kind side to him”.

He added: “This is inevitably a very sad matter. It seems to me the evidence suggests strongly that Paul had substantial money problems with people who enforce debts with violence.

“He was depressed for various reasons, including the loss of a friend, and he had some problems with drugs and he does seem to have left a note, which although slightly ambiguous, does appear to be a suicide note.”