A TALENTED and popular musician who took his own life had walked out of a mental health hospital with unsecured gates and limited CCTV outside weeks earlier, an inquest heard today.

Paul Griffiths, who lived in Clifton Street, was discovered by police hanged in woodland on November 4, five weeks after he disappeared from Bristol’s Priory Hospital.

Dozens of people hit the streets in Bristol and his hometown Swindon to search for the popular social care worker, with more than 8,000 flyers featuring his face printed and distributed.

Avon Coroner’s Court, near Bristol, heard the 60-year-old had a history of depression and anxiety which he was prescribed antidepressants for, but had taken a turn for the worse in summer 2015 when his father died.

Paul was admitted to the Priory on September 25 as a voluntary patient but alarms were raised when he did not attend a scheduled group therapy session at 11.30am on September 29, shortly after he was seen smoking in the hospital garden.

A Care Quality Commission report had also flagged up concerns over the lack of CCTV covering the garden at the Priory and the gates being unsecured due to construction work.

A statement from Paul’s partner Denise O’Sullivan, said the musician had become unwell in April 2012 with initial treatment proving unsuccessful.

“He gave up his job as a carer, he felt unable to provide people with the support that he needed, he had depressive episodes and had paranoia," she said.

“Nothing made him feel like he was back to his old self.”

Things intensified when Paul went away with his eldest daughter to the Isle of Wight.

“He had not eaten for the entire week and he looked very unwell, and he had aged,” the statement said.

“He was drinking a lot and he became very unwell.”

Following his admittance, he was seen by consultant psychiatrist Dr Paul Dedman.

“He was displaying signs of depression, he said he felt low and auditory hallucinations were reported,” Dr Dedman said.

“When I saw him again after the weekend he seemed to be improving, he was more upbeat.

“We made the decision that he needed that little bit of freedom so we allowed him to move about the hospital grounds unescorted. But he needed to be swiped in and out of the ward by a member of staff.

“We were feeling quite optimistic about him.”

The marked improvement in Paul’s demeanour was also noticed by other hospital staff.

Paul was described as “jovial and cheerful” by healthcare assistant Carolee Nugent on the day of his disappearance.

“When I first saw him, he was very anxious, and needed reassurance. But when we met again he was jovial, he elbow bumped me, it was very encouraging,” she said.

Fellow HCA Ivan Ssempa, who spoke to Paul on the morning of his death, said: “He appeared calm, he didn’t appear agitated.”

Paul was initially observed four times an hour, which was changed to twice hourly observations.

The Priory also faced questions over documentation after Paul was marked present at the group therapy session before being reported missing at 1pm.

Hospital director Jo Sherman said the hospital now had a secure gate system accessible with a card swipe, an improved documentation system to record a patient’s risk level and were in the process of installing three CCTV cameras to cover the hospital garden.

The hospital also have an attendance register for staff to check patients have made it to a session.

Concluding, senior coroner for Avon, Maria Voisin said: “I believe there is sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion of suicide. I conclude there is sufficient evidence the Priory Bristol have implemented measures to prevent future deaths.”

A spokesperson for the hospital said: "We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Paul's family and friends at this difficult time."