Eton boy and mother in suicide pact

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The Independent Online

A talented Eton schoolboy and his sick mother killed themselves in a premeditated suicide pact, an inquest was told on Thursday.

Keshan Gunawardena, 13, and his mother Dinesha, who suffered from the debilitating disease ME, were found laying dead in bed entwined together.

Father and husband Dr Kulsari Gunawardena made the discovery on 4 April at their home in Prides Crossing, Ascot, Berkshire. The pair had taken a drugs overdose.

The inquest heard that Mrs Gunawardena, a successful accounts executive at British Airways, had become "isolated" and "frustrated" since giving up her job after being diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, in 1994.

The Sri Lanka-born 45-year-old also missed her son, with whom she was "very close", after he started boarding first at Papplewick Preparatory School in Ascot and then at Eton in September 2001.

Dr Gunawardena told how he discovered his wife of 17 years, "cuddling" their only son, who had been conceived after repeated miscarriages.

Emergency services were unable to resuscitate the pair.

Police found empty drug vials scattered around and a suicide note from Mrs Gunawardena. It read: "I tried for seven years to go on. I wanted to get better for Keshan and you. But it was useless, I'm just a burden. At least when I've gone you can have a better life."

Dr Gunawardena, 52, told the hearing: "She always used to say that. I could never get her to understand that she didn't have to be useful – she just had to be."

He told the inquest in Windsor his son was distressed by the sight of his mother being overcome by fatigue and sleeplessness. "From the age of five or six, he had never seen her perfectly well. Most of the time she was distressed, so I think it must have upset him."

Toxicology tests revealed the pair had been killed by a massive overdose of a cocktail of drugs, including anti-depressant amitriptyline, tranquillizer benzodiazepine and painkiller dihydrocodeine.

The inquest heard that the intensely shy teenager had also been plagued by suicidal thoughts and had previously been referred to a psychiatrist.

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