West Wittering couple took own lives

A couple from West Wittering tragically took their own lives after suffering from the stress of prolonged ill health.

Husband and wife, Peter and Kathleen Southgate died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their car at their home in Marine Drive, on May 31.

Helen Lawrence, Coroner’s Officer for Sussex gave the narrative verdict during the inquest on August 22, explaining that Kathleen had suffered with ill health for some time before the incident.

“Kathleen had angina and acid reflux and symptoms related to dementia and epilepsy and Peter was a worrier after losing his first wife to cancer.

“There were numerous medications around the house which Peter had to give to Kathleen but the more he felt the pressure of looking after Kathleen, the more he felt he needed the tablets himself.”

Peter, 82, was a retired electronic engineer and Kathleen Southgate, 86, a retired dress maker.

Kathleen’s daughter and Peter’s step daughter, Sue Calder, had arranged meals on wheels to be brought to their home to help with their day to day living.

The inquest heard when Sue last went to their house on the Wednesday her mother told her she had had enough but Sue assumed it was nothing and went home, assuming Kathleen would feel better in the morning.

She called the next day and told Peter that he should go to the doctor as he seemed agitated.

Meals on wheels came around later that Thursday and had no answer. The police attended the scene and found the door unlocked, and found them in their car.

A post mortem found they both had fatal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood stream. No third party was involved.

Penny Schofield, coroner for West Sussex, gave two separate verdicts that Peter had taken his own life with his wife, and Kathleen had taken her own life with her husband.