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Seven Sisters "suicide pact" couple were "inseparable"
10:13am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
A couple who may have been part of a suicide pact at the Seven Sisters beauty spot have been described as "inseparable".
John Gilbert, 76, who was found dead on a coastal path at the country park near Seaford in the early hours of Friday last week, was named yesterday by police.
A 78-year-old woman, believed to be his partner, was arrested and questioned on suspicion of murder following the death.
Mr Gilbert and his partner had lived in The Waldrons block in Croydon for 15 years. Yesterday, a neighbour said: "They were inseparable. They were always together. We saw them two weeks ago with their shopping, they were really happy. It is shocking to hear. Of course it is.'
Another neighbour, said: "We didnt see them apart. You feel bad as we didnt notice they had gone until the police came. They both seemed fine.
"The son had said he hadn't heard from them for two weeks apparently so he was worried. I don't think their family live near here to be honest.
"The forensics were here Sunday. And the police put the door in on Friday."
Mr Gilbert's body was formally identified yesterday, but a cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
The woman, who is understood to be Mr Gilbert’s partner, was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and treated for injuries sustained during the incident.
Police said she flagged down a passing car at around 2.30am after emerging from the park, which is set within the South Downs National Park. She has since been released on bail until October 10.
Officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team are looking into the possibility the couple were involved in a failed suicide pact. It is believed the Croydon couple travelled from Brighton to the park by bus.
Acting DCI Jon Fanner said on Friday: “We are appealing to anyone who was in the country park late Thursday afternoon or evening and may have seen an elderly couple behaving unusually or what would appear to be out of character.
“We also believe they were staying in Brighton so would like to hear from anyone who was on a bus travelling from the city to the Seven Sisters area and who saw an elderly couple get off at this location.
“This is clearly a very tragic case in which a man has lost his life.”
The manager of a cafe at the Seven Sisters Country Park said: “We weren’t aware of anything at all. The first we knew was when we saw the police.
“It’s extremely sad. It’s not what you expect at all.”
A member of staff at the country park visitor centre said: “It’s quite a shock. It’s very sad.”
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