Southport husband killed himself after wife died of cancer

A devoted husband who ‘didn’t want to be alone’ killed himself next to his terminally-ill wife’s body after 60 years of marriage.

Rowland and Mary Hilton were found dead in the summer house at their home in Ainsdale near Southport, Merseyside.

Mr Hilton, 82, and wife Mary, 79 were last seen together by neighbours in Westminster Drive on April 27. 

An inquest heard that on May 3 their family solicitor received a letter, dated April 29, saying they intended to take their own lives.

Their bodies were found by a police officer who saw the curtains of their summerhouse closed but the doors unlocked.  

Rowland Hilton (left) took his own life after his terminally-ill wife Mary (left) died of lung cancer. The couple’s bodies were found next to each other at home in Ainsdale, near Southport

Mrs Hilton was on the floor and Mr Hilton on the sofa, said Stephen Craig, of the coroner’s office.

A post mortem revealed the cause of Mrs Hilton’s death was bronchial pneumonia, as a result of her pre-existing malignant mesothelioma and her husband’s cause of death was asphyxia. 

Coroner Christopher Sumner concluded Mrs Hilton died of natural causes and her husband as a result of suicide.

He added: ‘I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr Hilton intended to take his own life.

The couple’s letter was received by Tony Burns, their family solicitor for 30 years. 

He told the Liverpool Echo: ‘Ronald and Mary were a lovely couple.

‘Mary had been poorly for a long time. Rowland had said to me previously that he did not want to be alone.

‘In June, they had been together for 60 years, so they had a devoted relationship, and that’s why they took the step that they did.’

After receiving the suicide note, Mr Burns used the couple’s diary to alert friends and any family members of their deaths.

Mrs Hilton had wanted a small amount of jewellery to be given to charitable causes.

Their next door neighbour Eddie Bairstow recalled how Mr Hilton always wore a tie – and a bow tie on a Sunday. 

He added: ‘They were great people and great neighbours.’

  • If you or anyone you know is affected by issues in this article then contact the Samaritans on 116 123. 
The couple's bodies were found at their home in Westminster Drive (pictured) Ainsdale near Southport in Merseyside 

The couple’s bodies were found at their home in Westminster Drive (pictured) Ainsdale near Southport in Merseyside