Former Norwich man died in suicide pact

Relatives of a young teacher who died in an internet suicide pact with a former Norwich man wept as they heard she was found 'cradled' in the lap of the stranger.

The bodies of Jenny Spain, 23, and former Norwich student Mark Searle, 37, were discovered inside a car on a country lane near the village of Chalfont St Giles, in Buckinghamshire, just weeks after they met online.

An inquest heard the pair researched their deaths before driving to the remote spot where they were found in a Ford Ka.

Police later uncovered an internet trail and a series of text messages between Miss Spain, from Deptford, south London, and Mr Searle, from Hailsham, East Sussex.

NHS worker Mr Searle grew up in Norwich and was a pupil at Heartsease High School in the late 1980s. He also attended Mulbarton Middle School, Thorpe Hamlet Middle School and St William's Primary School in Thorpe St Andrew.


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The trail revealed they had planned their deaths on February 22, High Wycombe Magistrates' Court, in Buckinghamshire, heard.

The hour-long hearing was told the pair had been 'complete strangers living a considerable distance from each other'.

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Detective Constable Gareth Nicholson, of Thames Valley Police, said they originally made contact on February 2 after meeting on an internet forum.

While high-achiever Miss Spain had a history of depression and self-harm, Mr Searle, a nurse, suffered from bipolar disorder, the inquest was told.

In a matter of weeks, they agreed to end their lives together, discussing their plans using instant messages and on one occasion meeting in London.

Late on February 21 or early the next morning, they set off for Buckinghamshire - a region neither knew well.

Fighting back tears, Mr Searle's bereft wife, Emma Sandalls, told how the couple met in London on the morning of his death.

Her husband, who had suffered from suicidal thoughts since they met, never returned home at the end of the day.

Though the couple had been in the process of relocating to a new home at the time of Mr Searle's death, there was 'nothing untoward going on other than the usual stresses of moving house', Ms Sandalls said.

'I knew he had suicidal thoughts and he did find an outlet for that online,' she added.

Miss Spain's father, Christopher, appeared emotional as he said that his daughter, who had a first class degree, suffered from depression and self-harm.

But he added that family members had no idea she was about to end her life, agreeing that her death had come as a 'dreadful shock'.

Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett told the court that, in the aftermath of the deaths, he had been able to access information on their chosen suicide method online 'within about three minutes' using Google.

Recording verdicts of suicide, he said: 'There was a clear decision and determination to take this course of action which could only result in the death of both of them.

'With this in mind, I need to return two verdicts that each individual took their own life.'

The Samaritans are available 24-hours a day for anyone in any type of distress. Call 01603 611311, 08457 909090 or email jo@samaritans.org

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