THEY DIED HOLDING HANDS

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A husband and wife who owned two care homes were discovered holding hands after they committed suicide in their car.

Jaswant Beeharry and Isabel Ibanez-Mahiques died of carbon monoxide poisoning in June last year after igniting petrol poured around the interior of their black BMW.

The couple owned Maria-Helena Care in Gedney Dawsmere and Terrington Lodge Care Home in Terrington St John.

At an inquest held in Wisbech yesterday, coroner William Morris heard they had been in financial difficulties and had decided to close the Dawsmere home just two days before their bodies were found on June 9.

They were discovered by farmer Ricky Dring on an isolated back road near Doddington in Cambridgeshire. It is believed they had been there since at least the day before.

Mr Dring first saw the BMW on the afternoon of Friday, June 8. The windows had appeared to be steamed up and he said in a statement it was not unusual to see vehicles parked on the section of hardstanding next to the track which ran between two fields.

However, when the vehicle was still there the next day, Mr Dring looked closer. He saw that the steam was in fact smoke damage and he could see one person sat in the rear of the car, not moving.

When emergency services arrived, they found the couple dead in the back seat. An empty petrol can was in the front passenger footwell and a lighter was on the seat between them.

A fire investigation determined that petrol had saturated the floor in the back of the car and the couple deliberately ignited the vapours. It created a flash fire which was very short lived, due to a lack of oxygen in the car.

Police officer DI Jon McAdam said: “They were holding hands. There were no signs of distress, no signs of force. It was very clear they were at peace.”

They both died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The inquest also heard evidence from Lisa Farr, who managed Terrington Lodge and had worked with the couple for nine years.

She told Mr Morris that Mr Beeharry was depressed and when she questioned him, he said he was taking anti-depressants. He told her it was “his turn for a breakdown”.

Mrs Farr had been due to meet Mr Beeharry and Mrs Ibanez-Mahiques on Friday, June 8. They were holding a meeting to inform staff at Maria-Helena Care that the home was closing down.

At a meeting on June 7 with Lincolnshire County Council, a resident’s relative called the home to ask about the closure.

“It hadn’t been announced to residents yet,” said Mrs Farr. “It angered Isabel and upset Rishi (Jaswant).

“A meeting was planned for the next day. All the staff attended but Rishi and Isabel didn’t arrive. I was furious that they didn’t come and had left me to talk to the staff.”

Mrs Farr’s efforts to contact the couple were unsuccessful and it was not until Saturday, June 9 that police contacted Terrington Lodge to say their bodies had been found.

Glen Garrod, director of social care for Lincolnshire County Council, gave a statement outlining the problems Mr Beeharry and Mrs Ibanez-Mahiques had been going through. In 2011, Maria-Helena was found to have some “safe-guarding issues” and they were not allowed to take on any more residents while the issues were dealt with.

During this time, Mr Beeharry said it took all their financial reserves to keep the home running. In a letter to the council on June 1, 2012, Mr Beeharry expressed concern over the future of the home and said a low number of referrals from the council, delays in payments and high running costs were having a big impact.

Just five days later, on June 6, Mr Beeharry wrote again to say they were closing Maria-Helena and they would be working with Social Services to relocate the 32 residents.

Following the deaths of Mr Beeharry and Mrs Ibanez-Mahiques, the home remained open for a short time before permanently closing on July 8.

Mr Morris concluded that the couple, of Friday Bridge in Cambridgeshire, killed themselves and added: “This has been a particularly sad case and I wish to express my sincere sympathies to the families.”