Hove 'mercy killing' deaths: Families speak of shock

King George VI Mansions, Hove
Image caption Frederick and Mary Saunders, who lived in Hove, had "52 happy years together", their families said

The apparent mercy killing of a 71-year-old woman by her terminally ill husband, who later died, has left their families "deeply saddened and shocked".

Frederick Saunders, 85, died of natural causes days after being arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife Mary at their home in Hove, East Sussex.

Mrs Saunders was found dead at their flat in Court Farm Road on 29 November.

Nephew Paul Sands said Mr Saunders had terminal cancer and his aunt struggled with the thought of losing him.

'52 happy years'

"None of us could have imagined that they would come to such a tragic end," Mr Sands said.

In a statement issued on behalf of both families, he continued: "The close families of Fred and Mary Saunders would like to express their deep sadness and shock at the circumstances leading to their recent deaths.

"Fred had been battling against terminal cancer and as his health had deteriorated, Mary struggled with the thought of life without her husband of 52 happy years.

"They loved each other very much and were very close, none of us could have imagined that they would come to such a tragic end, but we are pleased they are both now at peace."

Sussex Police said mercy killing was one line of inquiry into the death of Mrs Saunders.

Mr Saunders was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton with minor injuries after the discovery of his wife's body.

Treated as murder

He remained in hospital for a "pre-existing and very serious underlying health condition" and died on Monday.

Police said Mr Saunders had been questioned under caution on 1 December over the death of his wife.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said Mrs Saunders' death was still being treated as murder.

Inquests into both deaths were opened and adjourned at Brighton Coroner's Court on Wednesday.

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