The family of a recently qualified pilot “who loved everything to do with aeroplanes” have paid tribute to him after he took his own life.

An inquest at Hatfield Coroners Court on Tuesday heard that Lee Manners, from Croxley Green, died when his car hit a tree on a bend in Sarratt Road, Rickmansworth, on November 4 last year at around 9.10pm.

The 24-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics just over half an hour later.

Dr Lutful Wahav, who works at Hemel Hempstead Mortuary, said Mr Manners died after suffering “traumatic” injuries.

The inquest heard that Mr Manners’ car had caught fire after hitting the tree.

Detective Constable Helen Giles, who gave evidence at the inquest, said that a witness had been driving home when he saw the blaze and called emergency services.

She added that a note was found in Mr Manners’ bedroom the day after the collision, which implied he was considering ending his life.

The inquest heard that messages with friends showed Mr Manners was in “some distress”.

PC Paul Andrews, who attended the scene of the crash in Sarratt Road, said there were no mechanical failures with the car or any braking or steering marks on the road to suggest that Mr Manners tried to avoid hitting the tree.

Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said it was likely that Mr Manners drove into a tree as a result of a “deliberate act” and concluded the death as a suicide.

He also read out a tribute by the family, which read: “Lee loved everything to do with aeroplanes and was accepted into Bournemouth flying school. In August 2019 he qualified as a professional pilot.

“Lee was also a very patient person and a very talented sportsman, but he loved golf. He was happy to play with people and he loved being on the golf course.

“Family time was also important to him and he wanted everyone around for Christmas.”

“Everyone who knew him spoke of his smile. He was a much-loved son and brother.”

If you are struggling, there are a range of services and charities to contact. You can find out more here -