Father 'killed himself and two-year-old son in dinghy tragedy to spare toddler torture of divorce'
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:30 AM on 04th October 2008
A father promised his two-year-old son an exciting day on the waves-while secretly plotting to drown both himself and the boy.
Alan Watkins, who was in despair at the breakdown of his marriage, carried out the plan to throw his son Arun from their tiny dinghy before jumping in himself.
Last year, a coroner ruled there had been a tragic accident. But the case was reopened after a message was discovered from Mr Watkins spelling out his deadly intentions.
Fresh evidence: The inquest into the deaths of Alan Watkins, 50, and son Arun Leon Watkins, two, has been reopened
At a second inquest it was revealed that he had secretly bought the motorised inflatable Zodiac Comet-not intended for use on the open sea-and promised his son an excursion at Littlehampton, West Sussex.
But privately the unemployed nurse, 50, had planned to kill them both to spare Arun the 'trauma and upheaval' of his pending divorce from the boy's mother Sheena, the inquest heard.
The case was reopened after his computer memory stick was discovered on top of a bathroom cabinet by a friend who was helping to clear the Watkins family home in Southwark, South London, in February.
Devastated: Alan's wife Sheena Watkins, at the first inquest in September last year
Filed on the stick was a letter with the title Moose-Mr Watkins's pet name for his wife. It said: 'While I know what I'm doing is wrong, it honestly but sadly feels like the best option for Arun and for me – and I have always said I would keep Arun's best interests at heart.
'Me taking my life would have left Arun to face a very poor and disturbed life. I could not do that to him and there was no sign from you that you were willing to compromise for any other option.
'This way, we know he had two very happy years, and doesn't have to go through the torture and unhappiness of coming from a broken home.
'He won't suffer any pain. You know that about me. And he will also be happy, and not have to suffer the trauma and upset he would have faced. I really do hope you find peace in your life now.'
The Zodiac inflatable boat which Alan Watkins took to sea
The letter was dated June 1, 2007, nine days before the tragic trip to the seaside. In a statement to yesterday's inquest in Worthing, West Sussex, Mrs Watkins, a nurse, said: 'On June 10, I told Alan I would be moving out with Arun the following day. He said he would take Arun swimming for the day, which was not unusual, but when I asked when they would be back, he just smirked.'
Later that day, she had to identify the body of her son. Her husband's body was washed up two days later.
On Friday coroner Penelope Schofield ruled that Mr Watkins committed suicide, and recorded a verdict of death by unlawful killing for Arun. She said: 'This is such a human tragedy.'
But after the hearing, Mrs Watkins said: ' I condemn the callous betrayal of a trusting child and loving son. There will be no forgiving or forgetting-how can there be?'
Investigators examine the dinghy after it was retrieved floating empty out at sea off Littlehampton