A retired barber killed his dementia-suffering wife before taking a fatal overdose, an inquest has heard.
Malcolm Brown, 74, and his wife Pauline, 73, were found by family members at their home address in Barnsley, South Yorks., in July last year.
Mrs Brown’s injuries were said to be consistent with asphyxiation and were ruled to be “unlawful” by senior coroner David Urpeth.
Mr Brown – who was suffering from an “aggressive” cancerous tumour – was believed to have taken a deliberate overdose of insulin.
Speaking at the Medico-Legal Centre in Sheffield, Detective Sergeant Stuart Hall of South Yorkshire Police said he didn’t think anybody else was involved in their deaths.
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DS Hall said police had been called to the couple’s house by the ambulance service just before 6pm on July 8, 2020, after Mrs Brown’s sister raised the alarm.
He said the couple were found in separate bedrooms by members of their family, and that the house was locked and alarmed.
Mr Urpeth said that Mr and Mrs Brown enjoyed a “long and happy marriage” and spent the day before their deaths with family members.
The inquest heard that Mr Brown had been a barber for 55 years before his retirement in 2019.
He had run the Hairdressing Room in Barnsley after his dad had purchased the business for him when he was a teenager, fresh out of his apprenticeship.
Medical evidence showed that Mrs Brown’s dementia had caused her health to decline in the months before she died.
A pathologist report said that Mrs Brown’s injuries were consistent with asphyxiation.
However, the post-mortem examination alone could not confirm that she had been smothered.
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Meanwhile, a post-mortem examination of Mr Brown’s body found an “aggressive” cancerous tumour in his abdomen.
Forensic pathologist Dr Philip Lumb said that Mr Brown had undergone medical checks for this, and that it would likely have caused his death “in a matter of weeks”.
The coroner concluded that Mrs Brown’s death was unlawful, while Mr Brown died as a result of suicide.
Mr Urpeth added that the couple’s death was “a tragedy for them but also a tragedy for those who have been left behind”.