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Grief-stricken John Ratcliff commited suicide four months after his wife Jacqueline's death in New Romney

By Sam Lennon

Jacqueline Ratcliff had taken her own life with prescribed drugs and John Ratcliff killed himself four months later, an inquest heard.

Rachel Redman, Central and South East Kent Coroner, concluded suicide in both cases.

Jacqueline Ratcliff committed suicide

Jacqueline Ratcliff committed suicide

She said: “This is a tragic situation. I had arranged to close the inquest on Mrs Ratcliff when I heard that Mr Ratcliff had died. I had intended for him to be a witness.

“It seems to me he was devastated by the loss of his wife and saw no reason to live.”

Mrs Ratcliff, 57, had been found dead at her home in St John’s Road, New Romney, last January 27.

She was crippled with fibromyalgia, which causes widespread muscle and bone pain and fatigue.

"It seems to me he was devastated by the loss of his wife and saw no reason to live..." - Coroner Rachel Redman

She suffered back pain and an attempt had been made at surgery but the pain increased.

Mr Ratcliff became her sole carer over her last four years.

A GP’s report said Mrs Ratcliff also had a history of nervous depression.

The week before her death her husband said he was leaving the house to take his own life and when she argued to stop him he assaulted her and was arrested.

Det Sgt Stuart Ward said that Mrs Ratcliff refused to make a statement against her husband.

DS Ward said that Mr Ratcliff was released without charge and the original allegation against him had been classed as low level.

The next week Mrs Ratcliff was found dead in her bed with family photographs and handwritten goodbye letters.

Pathologist Dr Nicola Chaston told the inquest at Folkestone Magistrates Court that Mrs Ratcliff had taken fatal doses of morphine and the sedative zopiclone.

She had also taken four other drugs with in each case the dosages classed as excess but not fatal.

The cause of death was recorded as mixed drug overdose.

Mrs Redman formally recorded that Mrs Ratcliff had taken her own life while suffering depression and fibromyalgia.

She recorded that Mr Ratcliff had done the same after the death of his wife.


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