St Helens couple’s murder-suicide tragedy

Carr Mill Dam, where Ronald Gravener's body was found
Carr Mill Dam, where Ronald Gravener's body was found

A St Helens pensioner killed his wife before drowning himself in Carr Mill Dam, an inquest has heard.

Coroner Christopher Sumner ruled Ronald Gravener, 78, unlawfully killed his 79-year-old wife Edith at their home in Mallory Grove, Islands Brow.

The inquest - held at St Helens town hall - heard the couple’s daughter-in-law made the grisly discovery after calling at the Graveners to take them to a doctors’ appointment.

Subsequent post mortem examinations showed that Mrs Gravener, a retired seamstress, died as a result of asphyxiation and Mr Gravener, a retired coal miner, of drowning.

Shortly after the tragedy, stunned neighbours living in the sleepy cul-de-sac told the Reporter of their shock after the bodies of the elderly couple were discovered just hours apart.

One said: “They had lived here for 20-plus years and were a really lovely couple. She suffered from dementia but he was totally devoted to her and cared for her around the clock. We used to see him going up the road to get his paper every morning.

“It’s terrible what’s happened. We’ve lived here for 30 years and nothing like this has ever happened around here before.”

He added: “Whichever way you look at it, it’s a tragedy.”

At the opening of their inquest, it was revealed that Mrs Gravener’s daughter-in-law, Amanda, had arrived at Mallory Grove shortly after 9am on December 2, 2014, to take Mrs Gravener to see her GP, but had found the couple’s property unlocked.

Inside, she discovered Mrs Gravener’s body and a note, penned by Mr Gravener, in which he apologised for his actions.

A subsequent police search resulted in officers finding Mr Gravener’s body in Carr Mill Dam shortly before 1pm.