Hailsham nurse in tragic suicide pact: inquest

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AN INQUEST into the death of a Hailsham nurse who died along with a teacher found that the pair were part of an internet suicide pact.

The inquest heard that nurse Mark Searle, aged 37 of Hailsham, was found inside a car on a country lane near the village of Chalfont St Giles, in Buckinghamshire.

A young teacher, Jenny Spain, aged 23, from Deptford in South London, was also found ‘cradled’ in his lap.

The inquest heard the pair researched their deaths before driving to the remote spot where they were found in a Ford Ka.

Police later uncovered an internet trail and a series of text messages between Mr Searle and Miss Spain.

It revealed they had planned their deaths on February 22, High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court, in Buckinghamshire, heard.

The hour-long hearing was told that the pair had been “complete strangers living a considerable distance from each other”.

Detective Constable Gareth Nicholson, of Thames Valley Police, said they originally made contact on February 2 after meeting on an internet forum.

While high-achiever Miss Spain had a history of depression and self-harm, Mr Searle, a nurse, suffered from bipolar disorder, the inquest was told.

In a matter of weeks, they agreed to end their lives together, discussing their plans using instant messages and on one occasion meeting in London.

Late on February 21 or early the next morning, they set off for Buckinghamshire - a region neither knew well.

In a written statement read to the court, a woman said she came across the scene as she walked her dog.

Judy Thompson said she spotted the car parked at the side of the road.

Two bodies were in the back and the driver’s seat had been pushed forward.

“I saw something on the male’s lap as though he was cradling something,” she said. “I immediately thought it was a child but quite quickly I realised it was another person, an adult, slumped across the male’s lap.”

The burgundy car’s windows had been taped up and there was a “pungent” smell of “bad eggs”, she said.

When emergency crews arrived at the scene, the surrounding area was sealed, with roads up to half a mile away cordoned off.

Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett recorded verdicts of suicide.