Devoted Horsham couple ‘planned’ to die after living ‘happy life together’

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A devoted couple from Horsham ‘made a positive decision to end their lives at a date of their choosing’, an inquest has heard.

Margaret Bond, 84, died at the couple’s home in Hengist Close on November 30 while her husband Frank, 83, died in East Surrey Hospital the next day.

An inquest into the couple’s deaths, held in Horsham on Friday (April 15), heard that Mr Bond’s health had been ‘fading’ in recent years.

Evidence that the pair, who did not have any children, planned their deaths was found at their home - including a note signed by both Mr and Mrs Bond.

Bridget Dolan, assistant coroner for West Sussex, described the end of their lives as ‘a sad but equally touching story’.

On November 30, a neighbour raised concerns for the couple, and police officers forced entry into their home via a bathroom window.

Giving evidence at the inquest, detective sergeant Peter Yarrow said Mr Bond was unconscious in the kitchen, but Mrs Bond was found dead in their bedroom.

DS Yarrow said two notes were found - one addressed to the coroner - expressing the couple’s intentions.

He said: “It indicated it had been something decided and researched at length over a number of years.”

Ms Dolan added: “A letter is dated February 2012 and signed by Mr Frank Bond and Mrs Margaret Bond gives an account of having had a happy life together, having made a positive decision to end their lives at a date of their choosing.

“It makes it clear this is their own wishes.”

DS Yarrow said a number of box files and letters had been placed on the table in the front room, indicating all their affairs had been put in order.

Dr Sara Rafferty, a neighbour of the couple, told the inquest Mr Bond had suffered from prostate cancer as well as heart failure and respiratory problems in recent years.

She said: “His health had been fading from our observations in recent months.

“He had conversations with me about end of life decisions, and they still regretted they didn’t have an option to end their lives in a legal way in this country.

“It wasn’t a surprise to me they might have done this.”

A statement from Mrs Bond’s nephew Ian Rodd, read by the coroner’s officer, said the couple met while working in a hotel, he as a trainee chef and she as a waitress.

They moved to London and lived ‘in poverty’, the statement said, but did well for themselves - Mr Bond working as a lecturer at Lewisham College and Mrs Bond as a librarian.

Mr Rodd said: “They couldn’t have children but immersed themselves in learning and enjoyed travelling to France. They both loved museums, classical music and art.

“They were a couple who were devoted to each other and led their lives as a pair.”

Ms Dolan also noted that books about how to end one’s life were found at the home.

She said: “What is clear from all the evidence, the careful planning and the letters left is this is clearly a planned event.

“The letter to the coroner signed and dated by Mr and Mrs Bond shows their intention to die.

“It is a sad but equally touching story to hear of two people who have lived what seems to be a very happy life together.

“They clearly were devoted to each other and loved each other’s company and decided to choose their destiny together.

“I think we can be very satisfied that while they ended their lives they did it the way they wanted to and kept their control to the end.

“There can be only one conclusion and I will record a conclusion of suicide.”

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