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'Real world' too much for Macari's son.

The drug-taking son of former soccer star Lou Macari was found hanged from a tree after a row with his girlfriend, an inquest heard yesterday.

Jonathan Macari, aged 19, who had ended his soccer apprenticeship with Nottingham Forest, took cocaine and amphetamines and owed money to a drug dealer in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, his former girlfriend Miss Julia Rigby told the hearing in the town.

The youngest son of the former Manchester United, Celtic and Scotland star was found hanged by a belt from a tree near Miss Rigby's home in Pacific Road, Trentham, after the couple had argued on April 28.

North Staffordshire coroner Mr John Wain returned an open verdict, saying that evidence suggested Macari was attention-seeking rather than intending to take his own life. The branch was just 4ft 7in from the ground, adjacent to a steep slope.

Mr Wain said: "I accept that Jonathan was a naive, immature, young man, who was not streetwise, though he may have thought he was.

"He had a strict discipline at school and in his football apprenticeship, but in June 1998, having a large sum of money in his pocket, he found himself in the real world."

He said he could not discount the fact that Macari, who was 5ft 7in, had placed the belt around his neck and was waiting for his girlfriend to find him when he slipped over the edge of the embankment.

Lou Macari, whose family also live in the Trentham area of Stoke-on-Trent, told the hearing that his son's lifestyle had changed when he had left his soccer apprenticeship at Nottingham Forest.

Jonathan accepted a large sum of money to leave the club.

The hearing was told Jonathan had "frittered away" the money socialising, which led to tensions at home.

Miss Rigby, aged 18, who had dated the teenager for about three years, told the hearing that he had developed bouts of moodiness and often became agitated.

"He would use drugs occasionally, cocaine and amphetamines, but not in my presence," she said.

On the night of his death, she had wanted to go to a party at a nightclub, but Jonathan had refused to go for fear of bumping into people to whom he owed money.

The teenager said they had argued throughout the evening and had returned to her house where they had again argued outside, before he had walked off.

Tests carried out on the body showed Macari had been drinking on the evening in question. But further tests showed no evidence of recent drug-taking, the coroner was told.
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Author:Aston, Paul
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 1, 1999
Words:425
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