Inquest: Elderly couple found dead with 'DNR' written on their foreheads

SA Updated
Elderly couple found dead with 'DNR' written on their foreheads

An inquest has heard that a husband and wife both took their own lives, writing ‘DNR’ on their foreheads and informing their solicitor of their intentions.

Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon Coroner’s Court heard that Peter Norris, 75, a retired company director, and his retired teacher wife Marguerite, 74, were found dead in separate bedrooms at their detached home in Modbury, on 8 April last year.

The inquest heard that both Mr and Mrs Norris took their own lives together due to their poor health and wrote ‘DNR’, meaning ‘Do Not Resuscitate’, on their foreheads.

Neighbours alerted Devon and Cornwall Police after not seeing the couple for several days.

According to a report in The Independent, detectives “discovered they had left detailed instructions on various matters after their deaths, such as updated wills and how to operate the automated light and heating” and evidence from their GP and the post-mortem examination revealed that the couple were “both in poor health”.

“Mr Norris had suffered two strokes, as well as coronary artery disease, chronic renal disease and obstructed neuropathy, while his wife had heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

“Toxicology tests carried out on the couple found they both died as a result of drug overdoses of prescribed medication.”

Police investigator Keeley Topham said their deaths were not treated as suspicious.

“Both the male and female had ‘DNR’ written on their foreheads but (there were) no other suspicious circumstances,” she said.

“We spoke with neighbours who had attended that day, none of whom had seen the deceased in the week preceding their deaths.

“On a desk were documents containing their updated will and various other bits of paperwork of matters that would require attention after their deaths.

“On a table in the sitting room was a clipboard with instructions for the automated light and heating along with instructions about keeping the curtains drawn to prevent the furniture fading.

“Later on, I spoke to the solicitor and they had received a letter from the couple which had basically explained, ‘Our lives, our choice’.

“The conclusion based on evidence we saw at the scene and also the results of the toxicology conclusion were that it does not appear there were any suspicious circumstances to this incident.

“While we accept the decision on the cause of death is made by the coroner all the evidence at the scene would suggest the sad deaths of Mr and Mrs Norris was due to suicide with no third party involvement.”

On Monday senior coroner Ian Arrow recorded conclusions that Mr and Mrs Norris had taken their own lives.

“I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Peter has decided to take an overdose,” he said.

“It is clear he did not wish to be resuscitated. I sadly therefore come to the conclusion he has taken his own life.”

Referring to Mrs Norris, he said: “I am satisfied from the fact she did not want to be resuscitated that she had taken those drugs with an intention of ending her own life.

“I therefore sadly come to the conclusion she has taken her own life.”

 

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