Disabled grandfather hanged himself after 'devoted' wife's death
12:08pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in News
A DEAF and blind man hanged himself in grief after his wife died of a sudden heart attack, a coroner has ruled.
Stewart Timms, 63, and his wife Valerie, 68, who was also deaf, had been a loving and devoted couple who dedicated themselves to helping each other with their disabilities.
But after Mrs Timms died in the bedroom of their home in Templefields, Andoversford, her husband hanged himself from the loft a few feet away, ruled deputy Gloucestershire coroner David Dooley yesterday.
He recorded a verdict that Mr Timms, a cabinet maker, committed suicide and Mrs Timms, a retired housekeeper, died of natural causes. The couple had two children and eight grandchildren.
Their bodies, both wearing nightwear, were found on June 16 this year after their daughter Emma Scott, of Blockley, Glos, went to visit.
They had last been seen alive two to three days before the discovery.
In a statement, their daughter said her parents had been married for 38 years. Both were registered deaf and her father was also registered blind after suffering with worsening tunnel vision.
"They were a couple who were very much in love," she said. "They did not argue and had not been arguing in particular in the run up to their deaths.
"They were always there for each other.
"Twenty four years ago dad tried to take his own life by hanging but he had not said anything recently or immediately before death which caused me to be concerned."
She said when she got to their house she got no answer so she tried the back door and found it unlocked.
She saw her father's guide dog, Arnie, and noticed there were faeces and urine on the floor which made her realise something was wrong.
Mrs Scott said she went to neighbour Adrian Stoner to ask for help. Mr Stoner went into the house and then returned to tell her that her father had hanged himself.
"I was subsequently informed that mum had also been found and both had been certified deceased," she stated.
"I am positive their deaths are not connected in that neither of them would in any way have assisted the other. They were a wonderful couple who were too much in love."
Mr Timms' brother Howard said he had found his brother 24 years ago when he tried to kill himself four months after the devastating news that he had been diagnosed with developing blindness. He had been deaf from birth.
His blindness had cost him his job at that time but he had later been re-employed by his former employers and did a less high level job using a special bright light, Howard said.
"After he tried to kill himself the hospital discharged him into my care and we took up athletics together. He actually ran marathons and he built up a new life for himself."
Howard described his brother and Mrs Timms as 'symbiotic' in the way they helped each other. Mrs Timms had learnt to drive in her forties when her husband could no longer do so.
"He always pushed himself to be cheerful. He didn't want to be a drag on anyone else," said Howard.
Neighbour Mr Stoner said he found Mr Timms hanging from a red strap from the loft.
After telling Mrs Scott he returned and went into the bedroom where he found Mrs Timms sitting on the floor against the bed and it was clear she was dead.
Det Insp Alastair Graham, who led the investigation into the double tragedy, said "The likely scenario is that sometime on Wednesday, June 13, while preparing for bed or in bed Mrs Timms died from non suspicious causes. At some stage Mr Timms discovered that his wife of nearly forty years had died and he decided to take his own life by hanging himself."
Pathologist Professor Neil Shepherd said Mrs Timms died from cardiac arrest due to myocardial fibrosis, high blood pressiure and diabetes. There was no evidence of any injury to her.
Patrholgist Dr Pritti Joshi said Mr Timms died from hanging.
The deputy coroner said "They were a devoted couple who had looked after each other for many years. They had a symbiotic relationship. They both assisted each other and they both managed to get through life with the help of each other.
"He appears to have done the chores and she has done the driving because of his lack of sight."
At their joint funeral in July donations were made in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide on Mr Timms and natural causes on his wife.
He said that for a man with such poor vision to have hanged himself would have taken a lot of effort and determination and was clear evidence of suicidal intent.
It was not necessary for him to rule which person died first but he believed it was Mrs Timms followed by her husband, he said.
"She has felt ill, tried to get up out of bed, collapsed and died suddenly from heart disease," he said. "It is more likely than not that Mr Timms then found her and decided he couldn't go on without his wife.
"While grief stricken he appears to have taken his own life.
"It was a rather tragic end to what was obviously a very loving and long relationship."
After the inquest Mr and Mrs Timms' son Mark declined to comment. Mrs Scott did not attend the hearing.
Howard Timms said "This was a very sad end to a wonderful love story."