A MARRIED couple who each served for more than two decades in the British Army died together at a Purbeck beauty spot in a suicide pact, an inquest has heard.

Peter and Deborah McGuinness, who were described as being "devoted to one another", were found dead in a hired Range Rover in the car park of Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, Swanage, on August 3, last year.

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

They died in the front seats sometime after arriving the evening before.

Detectives found two glasses of wine and a series of notes which made it clear their intention was to take their own lives, Dorset Coroner's Court was told on Wednesday, June 30.

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

During the inquest hearing at Bournemouth Town Hall, 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.

Deborah, 49, and husband Peter, 54, had driven to Purbeck from their home in Kingston upon Thames.

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 Peter, 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 Peter 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.

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

Mrs Griffin also said: "Peter was a gentleman who attended his local GP and was diagnosed with depression, for which he was prescribed medication.

"He was known to have talked about dying in the past, and although he had not displayed any thoughts or plans to end his life, he talked in general terms about not being alive.

"Debs, on the other hand, had no previous history of any mental health conditions or talking of any thoughts of self harm."

The coroner also said: "I do note that their behaviour to all those around them, their close family and friends, in the days leading up to their deaths, gave no indication of what was going to happen and what they planned to do."

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