Scottish Daily Mail

Tycoon strangled wife then stabbed himself

Double tragedy after couple talked of suicide pact

- By Rachel Mountain

A SCOTTISH former fashion magnate stabbed himself in the heart after strangling his seriously ill wife, a coroner ruled yesterday.

Douglas ‘ Harry’ Morton, 61, killed Gwendoline ‘Carol’ French, 73, after having previously offered to take her to Switzerlan­d for assisted suicide f ollowing a stroke.

Mr Morton then plunged a kitchen knife into his heart and left a note which read: ‘I have always believed we should decide the times of our departure from this planet.’

The couple, who had been married for 20 years, had enjoyed a globetrott­ing lifestyle following their retirement, travelling the world in their Winnebago motor home.

But his wife’s diminished ability to look after herself following a stroke in May last year triggered Mr Morton’s obsession with suicide, Westminste­r Coroners’ Court heard.

They were found dead at their home in, Battersea, London, on November 20 last year. Miss French was in her bedroom, with a ligature mark around her neck.

Mr Morton was in the bath with a ligature round his neck and a stab wound to his heart. His wrists were cut, three kitchen knives were next to the bath and evidence that 50 paracetamo­l tablets had been ground up and consumed was discovered.

The suicide note was on the stairs, reading: ‘Sorry everyone, no way forward for us – Harry and Carol.’

Mr Morton had previously dis-

‘They chose to die together’

cussed suicide. Nigel Taylor, an old university friend, told the inquest: ‘Harry was somebody who was determined to control his life and probably equally determined to control the manner in which he left his life.’

Mr Morton, who married his wife in Helensburg­h, Dunbartons­hire, in 1994, was a successful businessma­n, owning a chain of high-end women’s fashion shops before taking early retirement in his forties.

Miss French was born in Liverpool and spent many years editing women’s magazines.

Mr Morton’s brother Norman, who lives in New Zealand, said in a statement: ‘Both Carol and Harry were very close and spent all of their time with each other.

‘Although their deaths were a surprise, it is no surprise to me that they chose to die together – they did everything together.’

But coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox ruled that Miss French had been unlawfully killed by Mr Morton.

She said: ‘I am satisfied there is no convincing evidence Carol wished her life to be ended at this time. I am satisfied to that on the balance of probabilit­ies.

‘I am sure she was unlawfully killed by asphyxiati­on – first by strangling and then by ligature applicatio­n to the neck.

‘I am also satisfied that this was not part of a suicide pact.

‘In relation to Harry Morton, I am sure he performed an act, alone and unassisted, with the intention of taking his own life and his actions did lead to his death. I therefore find the cause of his death to be suicide.’

 ??  ?? Note: Douglas ‘Harry’ Morton
Note: Douglas ‘Harry’ Morton

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