Deborah and Peter McGuinness were a ‘devoted’ couple who threw a fancy dress party with friends just days before their tragic deaths.
A devoted military couple killed themselves in a suicide pact the day after throwing a final party for their unsuspecting friends, an inquest heard.
Deborah McGuinness, 49, who worked as a personal assistant to three heads of the army, and her ex-soldier husband Peter, 54, were found dead at a remote beauty spot near Swanage in Dorset, southwest England.
A suicide note found next to their bodies said, “neither of us can be without the other,” their inquest heard.
Friends said they seemed happy the day before they died when they hosted a Mexican themed fancy dress party at their home in Kingston-Upon-Thames, South West London.
Iraq war veteran Mr McGuinness served 22 years in the army and had talked about taking his life after suffering from depression.
But Mrs McGuinness had been given the all clear from cancer five months before she died and had.
Her former boss Sir Richard Dannatt said she was a “model soldier” and the couple’s deaths were “a double tragedy”.
“It is only some comfort that she and her husband were together,” he told The Sun.
Cards containing money and poignant messages to family members were also discovered at the scene, near Swanage in Dorset.
Mr McGuinness, who served in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, left the army in 2007 and had suffered bouts of anxiety and depression which may have been triggered by PTSD.
The day after the party, to celebrate Mrs McGuinness’s birthday, they drove to Durlston Country Park, in a rented Land Rover Evoque.
Mrs McGuinness’s mother Rosemary Carlisle told the inquest: “As a family we are so confused as to why they chose to end their lives.
“There was no indication about what would happen next as they were talking about going on holiday to Spain and buying a flat.”
An investigation found they had researched wills online two weeks before they took their lives.
Army friend Thomas Rutherford said “they seemed to be enjoying themselves a great deal” at the party.
Deaths were a ‘double tragedy’
“There was no indication that anything was amiss,” he added.
A post-mortem ruled out foul play.
Mrs McGuinness’s niece Esther Carlisle, who had lived with the couple before moving abroad, said: “They were together for 23 years and loved each other dearly.
“Peter got low sometimes and said he didn’t think he’d live till he was 60.
“I remember the only time he got angry and it was when his son suggested he might have PTSD and suggested he get help.”
The couple left behind a notepad with passwords inside it for their electronic devices and advice on what to do with their ashes.
Pare were a ‘devoted couple’
Mrs McGuinness served in the army from 1989 to 2012, doing tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq, and was personal assistant to three consecutive heads of the Army, Generals Sir David Richards, Sir Richard Dannatt and Sir Peter Wall.
At the time of their deaths, she was working as an office manager at the same security firm as her husband, who was an insurance handler.
Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin said: “It is very clear to me that Debs and Peter were devoted to each other and were popular, hardworking and social people.
“Their behaviour to their close family and friends in the days leading up to their death gave no indication of what was going to happen.
“Peter had been diagnosed with depression but on the other hand Debs had no history of mental health conditions and had actually discouraged Peter when talking about not wanting to be alive.
“I’m satisfied on the balance of probabilities that they did the act that caused their deaths and in doing so intended these consequences.”
She ruled their deaths were suicides.
This article originally appeared onand was reproduced with permission