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Couple in suicide pact after holiday
Updated 2:17pm Friday 28th March 2014 in News
A POLICEMAN and his wife killed themselves in a suicide pact after selling their cars and going on a last luxury holiday to Las Vegas, an inquest has heard.
The body of the 41-year-old PC, who quit the Metropolitan Police before the death pact, was found sitting up in bed alongside his dead 49-year-old wife.
A coroner heard former PC Philip Powell and his wife Vanessa were both depressed but had embarked on a holiday to America.
PC Powell had taken a 245 days off work in just 13 months. His wife was also suffering from depression. They ended their lives in a planned double suicide at a house they rented in Swindon.
Letting agency staff used a ladder to peer through a bedroom window and saw the couple in bed.
The couple had left a number of printed and signed suicide notes, including one to the coroner, who said it was the first time he had experienced such a thing.
Mr Powell had quit his job by email while on a holiday in America, funded by selling their cars.
When he failed to return to work after his sickness certificate expired the Metropolitan Police asked the Las Vegas Police Department to check on him and his wife.
Deborah Reay, of Richard James estate agents, had been in contact with the Powells about the early return of a house they had been renting since November 2012 in Chevalier Close, Middleleaze.
On August 22 Ms Reay visited but got no answer and could see the couple’s dog had urinated inside. She went back the next evening with her partner and colleague.
They managed to get into the address but stopped when they spotted a note fixed to a wall, stating: “Attention: If you are not the police, don’t go upstairs.”
Coroner David Ridley heard from Supt Jonathan Morgan, the deputy borough commander for the City of Westminster. Mr Powell had served in the police briefly in 2004-2005, before leaving then rejoining years later.Soon after rejoining he started experiencing difficulties.
“If someone has had three periods of sickness or 19 days in three years then they are under some scrutiny,” said Supt Morgan. “In 13 months Philip had been off for 245 days.”
When he failed to return to work his bosses discovered he and his wife were in Las Vegas.
Supt Morgan said this sparked increased concern because of Mr Powell’s mental state.
Local American officers checked on the pair – which angered Mr Powell – and before he was due to return to work he sent a resignation letter by email. The couple’s GP Dr Deborah Milligan confirmed Vanessa Powell had first received psychiatric help in her teens. Dr Milligan, who treated the Powells at her surgery in Wokingham, Berkshire, when they lived in nearby Woodley, said she had recommended the couple register with a surgery in Swindon when she heard they had moved. That never happened.
The coroner formally recorded a conclusion in each case that they had taken their life while suffering from depression.
The couple were described as private people by their neighbours, who rarely saw much of them in their short time at Chevalier Close.
One resident, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “They were very quiet people who kept themselves to themselves.
“They didn’t really want to speak to anyone in the street. They weren’t rude, but if they ever took the dogs out they wouldn’t be the type to acknowledge you.
“It was all very strange on the week it happened. The curtains had been drawn in every room and everything had been moved from the window sills.”
Another neighbour said: “They were very private people, the woman more than the man. He would be happy to share a few words in the street if you ever met him.”
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