Fatal doses led to deaths

Crime scene Milton Crescent Lupset Wakefield 25/05/10
Crime scene Milton Crescent Lupset Wakefield 25/05/10

A “DISTURBED and reclusive” couple died after taking a cocktail of prescription drugs, an inquest heard.

Diane and Derek Hardcastle’s badly decomposed bodies were found at their home on Milton Crescent, Lupset, in May last year, after Jehovah’s Witnesses raised the alarm.

They called the police after noticing a strong smell, flies and piles of unopened mail.

After forcing entry to the house, officers found containers with tablet sediment, prescription packets and handwritten notes.

The inquest heard the couple, who were rarely seen by neighbours or family members, had overdosed on temazepam, dihydrocodeine and amitriptyline.

Forensic experts could not confirm how long they had been dead.

But a police statement said a neighbour had reported seeing Mr Hardcastle, 53, about two weeks before the bodies were found.

In another statement, Mrs Hardcastle’s sister Sharon Hargraves said the couple both suffered from depression and became Buddhists about 15 years ago.

She said: “Up until three years ago we would see them a few times a year but then they became reclusive.

“They would not answer the door or telephone.

“Once they sealed exits with tissue paper and put the gas on without lighting it so it would put them to sleep.”

During the 1980s Mr Hardcastle had a kidney transplant and Mrs Hardcastle, 46, had a hysterectomy which left her with chronic pain.

But family members said although they were in pain both were reluctant to see doctors.

Deputy assistant coroner Mary Burke recorded a narrative verdict and gave the cause of death as a fatal overdose.

She said: “For the last few years they led a relatively reclusive life having very little contact with anyone apart from each other.

“It is clear from the content of handwritten notes that they were both disturbed and troubled in mind and thought.”