"Philip McBrown, a labourer and salesman, had taken fewer pills than his wife, and fell unconscious next to her."
Suicide pact after couple spent £200k inheritance
January 28, 2010
A HUSBAND woke up to find his wife dead beside him after he survived their joint suicide pact.
Philip and Margaret McBrown decided to kill themselves after spending more than £200,000 of inheritance money and plunging into financial trouble, an inquest heard.
But a cocktail of painkillers and whisky they both took at their Stalybridge home killed her, while he was hospitalised and later recovered.
An inquest heard how Mr McBrown, 58, an alcoholic, was arrested on suspicion of assisting his wife’s suicide. When police spoke to him at hospital, he told them: "It was all my wife’s idea."
He was later cleared after a police investigation.
Mr McBrown died five months later with painkillers and other prescribed drugs in his system, and suffering from liver disease, but after an inquest the coroner could not find a clear cause of his death.
Coroner John Pollard recorded a verdict that Margaret, 60, took her own life and an open verdict for Philip, and said: "Altogether, this is a very sad case. What a tangled web."
The couple met in the early nineties and were later married. Margaret’s family ‘did not really take to (Philip)’ because of his heavy drinking, her daughter Charlotte Taylor told the coroner.
DI Andrew Aston, of Tameside police, said that Mrs McBrown inherited a large sum of money after a relative died, and had ‘just short of £210,000’ in 2002.
The couple bought a home in Spain and a BMW Z3 sports car.
By the time they returned to England in 2008 they had remortgaged their Spanish home and Mrs McBrown was overdrawn by £8,000, DI Aston said.
In 2008, they were both charged with fraudulently claiming housing benefit on their Stalybridge flat, while abroad. The case was still ongoing when Mr McBrown died in October last year.
Mrs McBrown, a former telephonist, died from drug poisoning at her home in Castle Hall Court, Stalybridge, on May 12 last year.
She had drunk whisky and taken painkillers, antihistamines and antidepressants, pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said.
Philip McBrown, a labourer and salesman, had taken fewer pills than his wife, and fell unconscious next to her.
When he woke up, Margaret was lying lifeless next to him on the bed. They had left suicide notes for police and their family.
The coroner heard how after her death he suffered depression and spent his days in Wetherspoons in Stalybridge, then drank at home in the evenings. He was discovered dead at home by his community mental health worker on October 9.
During his inquest, toxicologist Julie Evans said there were painkillers and other prescribed drugs in his system. He was also suffering from jaundice and liver disease, but none of these accounted specifically for his death.