10:51am Thursday 27th October 2011
By Amanda Williams
LOVING grandparents Bill and Mary Warburton stuck together through decades of family life but could not face the end without each other.
The successful businessman and his wife gassed themselves, an inquest heard yesterday.
Mrs Warburton, who had Motor Neurone disease, and her husband were discovered in the garage of their Botley home at about 7.30pm on Monday, March 28, by their son Richard. But an inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday heard the couple most likely died of carbon monoxide poisoning three days before, on Friday, March 25. Mr Warburton, 67, a retired director of Warburton Building Services, based in Farmoor, and president of the Rotary Club of Oxford Isis, was found in the driving seat of his Rolls- Royce.
A note in his handwriting was also found. The ignition of the car was switched to on, but it had run out of fuel and the battery had gone flat by the time the couple were found. Mrs Warburton, 66, who had been diagnosed with the muscle wasting disease years previously, was next to the car in her wheelchair.
Son Richard said he had checked both of his parents’ pulses, but it had been ‘clear’ to him they were both dead.
Coroner Nicholas Gardiner read evidence from the Warburtons’ family doctor Dr Richard Baskerville, of Beaumont Street. He said in the months leading to his death, Mr Warburton ‘a successful businessman’, had gone to him with worries about his wife’s depression, financial concerns and a housing estate being planned near his family home, in an area where he had lived all of his life. He tried to prescribe Mr Warburton medication to improve his mood. He said Mrs Warburton had suffered with depression because of her condition and had been using walking sticks since 2009, before eventually becoming totally dependent on her husband and the use of a wheelchair.
Mr Warburton, jnr, said his parents had become unhappy in 2010 when his mother returned from a four- month stay in St Luke’s Hospital, in Latimer Road, Headington, where she had been admitted after suffering a fractured leg.
He told coroner Nicholas Gardiner: “He (Mr Warburton) had been quite happy and she was getting the care she needed. When mum came out she needed 24-hour care and he found it difficult. My father was of the generation where you didn’t take help.
“However much we’d offer he would always say ‘no, we can cope’.” He added: “It was a total surprise. Definitely not in either of their characters. “Dad would always say there’s nothing we can’t do or get around.
“He was a successful self-made businessman. He used to always tell me and my brother, James, and sister, Claire, however bad things were there was always a way out. For both of them to do that was a huge shock.”
Mr Warburton also served as a churchwarden at St John’s Church in New Hinksey for more than 30 years. As well as three grown-up children, the couple had four grandchildren, Tom, Kate, Max and Niamh. Mr Gardiner recorded that both Mr and Mrs Warburton had taken their own lives, but added it was “impossible to say who had died first.”
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