Estate agent finds couple's bodies after mercy killing

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A man suffering from cancer carried out an apparent mercy killing on his chronically ill wife before taking his own life.

A man suffering from cancer carried out an apparent mercy killing on his chronically ill wife before taking his own life.

John Lewis, 56, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, is believed to have suffocated his wife Enid, 57, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, before hanging himself. Their bodies were discovered by an estate agent showing prospective buyers round the couple's home at Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, on Friday.

Mr Lewis had just returned from a week's hospital treatment for his cancer, during which time his wife, who needed round-the-clock care, had been moved into a nearby hospice.

Their next-door neighbour, Marion MacFarlane, 80, said the estate agent had left the property after discovering Mr Lewis's body and then returned to find his wife in another room.

She said: "Their house was up for sale and they left the key with me so the estate agent could show people around. The estate agent rang up and said somebody was coming to have a look.

"So he got the keys from me and said he'd only be a few minutes. But he came back and he was devastated. He said: 'he's dead in the lounge'. He didn't think anyone else was in there but then he went back and found Enid in the other room. The agent had the people with him and he hustled them out before they could see anything."

The couple moved to Cumbria from Merseyside more than 10 years ago, but Mrs Lewis had become increasingly dependent on her husband for care.

"He was in hospital last week and she had to go to a hospice while he was there," Mrs MacFarlane added. "He had been in hospital for treatment for cancer and she had multiple sclerosis. She couldn't do anything for herself. John did everything for her, they were devoted to each other. His life revolved around her. He fed her and lifted her here, there and everywhere."

Mrs MacFarlane said that in addition to looking after his wife, Mr Lewis regularly helped his neighbours on the cul-de-sac.

She said: "I'm elderly and John would do things for me. He'd bring me my paper or go to the shops for me and pop in and have a chat. He was very pleasant and it's such a shock to everyone. He came in yesterday and gave no inkling he would do anything like this."

Inspector Paul Coulson, of Cumbria Police, confirmed that no one was being sought in connection with the deaths. He said: "A man aged 56 and a woman aged 57 were both found dead in circumstances suggesting at least one homicide. We are continuing our investigations and we are currently awaiting the outcome of the Home Office pathologist's post-mortem."