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Elderly couple's deaths unexplained

Published 05/06/2015

Police at the scene in the Abbey area of Ballycastle, Co Antrim
Police at the scene in the Abbey area of Ballycastle, Co Antrim
Police said they were working to establish the cause of death

Police are treating the deaths of an elderly couple in Co Antrim as unexplained.

The bodies of Rita Boughey, 79, and her 68-year-old husband Kenneth were found by a family member at their home in the Abbey area of Ballycastle last night.

It is believed they had been dead for several weeks.

Post mortem examinations to establish the cause of death are due to take place later today.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief inspector Mark McClarence said investigators were not ruling out the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He said: "At this time the deaths are being treated as unexplained. The post mortems will direct how the investigation progresses.

"I appreciate there has been a lot of speculation and comment around carbon monoxide as a possibility (of causing death). We are keeping a very open mind around that possibility. The home is going to be examined and that will be one line of inquiry."

The couple are originally from Liverpool and had lived in Spain before moving to the north coast town about 10 years ago.

It is understood Mrs Boughey's son discovered their bodies, believed to have been in separate rooms, when he visited the property after growing concerned.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the house just after 8.30pm.

Tests for potentially lethal levels of carbon monoxide were taken but none was detected.

Chief Inspector Mark McClarence added: "Fire Service did attend last night to check the property. At that stage it was safe for all the emergency services to enter; there was no sign of carbon monoxide. However, we do appreciate that could have been from some time ago and that carbon monoxide may not be a factor now, today."

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive said they were not involved in the case at this stage. "We have not been requested to attend," he said.

The Abbey is a new housing development comprising town houses and apartments on the site of a former convent close to the town centre.

A number of the properties are holiday homes while others are occupied by young families.

Independent councillor Padraig McShane said the community had been left stunned and saddened by the news.

He said: "Obviously there is shock and horror in the whole community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

"We just hope that a thorough investigation will be carried out and will provide some answers."

The scene remains sealed off while forensic officers continue their examinations.

Mr McClarence appealed for anyone who was in contact with the couple in the past few weeks to come forward.

He said: "We would ask anybody that has been in contact with them in the last period that could assist us and the family in getting to the bottom of what has happened."

DUP MLA for North Antrim Mervyn Storey has also expressed shock.

He said: "This is a devastating tragedy which has shocked everyone in the Ballycastle area.

"We obviously do not know the full details yet, but the suggestion that the couple may have died some time before being discovered is particularly distressing.

"My thoughts are with the couple's family and friends at this time and I would hope that the full details of this tragedy can be established."

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