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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 17:29 GMT
Mother killed herself and son
Helen Rogan and her son Mark
Ms Rogan was a qualified occupational therapist
An inquest has recorded verdicts of suicide and unlawful killing after hearing a mother jumped 180 feet to her death from a bridge clutching her autistic son.

The bodies of 38-year-old Helen Rogan and her 11-year-old son Mark Owen Young were discovered after a taxi driver failed to get an answer at their home.

The pair, from Blackhill, Consett, County Durham, were found dead by her brother-in-law at the foot of Hownsgill Viaduct on 17 September 2001.

The inquest heard before jumping from the bridge Ms Rogan had swallowed and also given her son prescribed tablets, and slashed their wrists, in unsuccesful attempts to end their lives

'Loving parent'

North Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle, said: "As a parent I find it is almost impossible to imagine the depth of despair and lack of hope for the future that Helen must have felt to enable her to do what she did.

I believe she thought she was doing the best thing for herself and Mark

Andrew Tweddle, North Durham Coroner

It seems to me that as time went on she became more worried about the future, what it would hold for herself and her son.

"It's abundantly clear to me she was the most loving and caring parent."


The qualified occupational therapist was said to be extremely concerned about the future just prior to the deaths.

'Appalling tragedy'

The coroner said that there was no suggestion her son was to be taken from Ms Rogan, but she worried about being unable to cope with Mark as he grew older.

Mr Tweddle said: "I believe she thought she was doing the best thing for herself and for Mark.

"She thought without Mark she would have no life, and without her he would have no life."

Durham Police said the incident was an "appalling tragedy".

See also:

18 Sep 01 | UK
Mother and son found dead
27 Sep 01 | England
Funeral of autistic boy and mother
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