Military couple’s home raided for ‘indecent images of children’ days before suicide pact

Peter and Deborah McGuinness were found dead in the front seats of a hired Range Rover on August 3 last year (Image: HNP Newsdesk/Hyde News & Pictures Ltd)

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A military couple's home was raided by police investigating indecent images of children four days before they were both found dead.

Peter and Deborah McGuinness, who had served together for more than two decades in the British Army, died together at a local beauty spot in a suicide pact, an inquest heard.

The couple, described as being "devoted to one another", were found in the front seats of a hired Range Rover on August 3 last year.

Officers from the Met Police confirmed that on July 29, 2020, they had executed a search warrant at the address of Mr and Mrs McGuinness as part of an investigation into the sharing of indecent images of children.

No arrests were made but a number of devices were seized from the property and the investigation was ongoing at the time of their deaths, the force said.

The inquest was told the pair had arrived at the car park of Durlston Country Park in Swanage, Dorset, on the evening before and had died at some point overnight.

Peter and Deborah McGuinness, who were described as being "devoted to one another"
(Image: HNP Newsdesk/Hyde News & Pictures Ltd)

Police said the vehicle had been locked and there was no third-party involvement nor any signs of coercion at the scene.

A post mortem examination determined the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Detectives found two glasses of wine and a series of notes which made it clear their intention was to take their own lives, the Dorset coroner heard.

During the inquest hearing in Bournemouth, presided over by Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin, statements were read from friends and family.

Mrs Griffin concluded the couple's behaviour had been nothing out of the ordinary in the days leading up to their deaths.

Mrs McGuinness, 49, and her husband , 54, had driven to Purbeck from their home in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.

Police officers examining the Land Rover
(Image: BNPS)

They had both served in the Royal Fusiliers, with Deborah having worked as a personal assistant to three consecutive heads of the British Army.

The court heard how Mr McGuinness, after a distinguished military career serving around the world, had worked for a time as security on cargo ships travelling through "dangerous waters".

He had recently started treatment for depression and anxiety, the court also heard.

At the time of their deaths, he worked as an insurance handler while his wife worked as an office manager.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Mrs Griffin said the couple were clearly devoted to one another.

Tourists and walkers were turned away from Durlston Country Park on the morning the bodies were found
(Image: BNPS)

She added: "They'd been together for 23 years prior to their death. They were both popular, hard-working, sociable people."

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told The Mirror after the hearing: “An inquest into the deaths of Peter and Deborah McGuinness was held at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, 30 June.

“The Metropolitan Police Service fully engaged with the coronial process that examined the circumstances of their death. The Coroner’s finding was that the death of both Peter and Deborah McGuiness was suicide.

“Our thoughts remain with the families of Peter and Deborah at this sad and difficult time.”

Police at the scene
(Image: BNPS)

The force added: “On Wednesday, 29 July 2020, officers from the Met executed a search warrant at the address of Mr and Mrs McGuinness as part of an investigation into the sharing of indecent images of children.

“No arrests were made and a number of devices were seized from the property. This investigation was ongoing at the time of their death.

“As is usual after a death following police contact, a referral was made to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards and the IOPC. No misconduct issues were identified.”

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