THE sister of a hugely talented software engineer who took his own life believes coronavirus is responsible for his death.

Rebecca Ford described her brother James Ford as “a brilliant person, who was incredibly loved”, during his inquest in Cockermouth yesterday.

James, 36, had worked for both Microsoft and Sony, receiving an award from Microsoft founder Bill Gates for his contribution towards the development of the Xbox.

He had been reported missing by his family when he didn’t return from a walk in the area of Gale Lonning on August 2. A search operation was launched to find James, who had been staying with his aunt in nearby Melmerby, north east of Penrith. He was found dead the next day.

He was described as “incredibly popular” and “very athletic” in school during the inquest.

James graduated in computer science from Victoria University in Australia in 2005, with his family moving to England later that year. After time living in Devon and Bath, James got his first job in computer engineering in 2007, before he moved to London five years later. Two years later he was working on PS3 video games for Sony.

“In July 2019 he joined a startup company,” said sister Rebecca Ford in a statement read out on her behalf.

“He lived in London for a number of years but was beginning to become bored,” said sister Rebecca Ford in a statement read out on her behalf.

“In March 2020 he was planning to move to Japan. We didn’t know exactly why but we assumed he was moving for career progression.”

“He wasn’t happy that he couldn’t move to Japan, he was more annoyed than anything,” said Aunt Rita Mark in a statement. “He had started working remotely for a company in Japan and began working at 5am or 6am each day. He began doubting himself and his abilities at work.”

He was soon prescribed medication for his anxiety and depression. Rita explained how James had come down to the kitchen for breakfast on August 2 and left the house later that morning.

James was later reported missing.

The hearing also heard from James’ boyfriend of five years Manato Kawasaki, who described his partner as “the most passionate and hardworking person he has ever met”.

He explained the pair had planned to move to Manato’s native Japan, but issues with gaining a visa had delayed the move. Manato said James had told him he had long suffered with spells of anxiety.

James was described as “trapped” in a job he didn’t enjoy due to a fear of how a gap in employment would appear to future employers and how it might damage his chances of obtaining a visa.

The hearing heard how James’ mental state continued to deteriorate in the weeks and months leading to his death.

“I whole heartedly believe he was a victim of covid.

“There were of course underlying things but coronavirus certainly contributed,” explained sister Rebecca.

If you need to speak to someone, the Samaritans are always available on 116 123.