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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 16:53 GMT
'Suicide pact' couple left note
Wendy and William Ainscow
Mr and Mrs Ainscow were picked up from the sea by a fishing boat
An elderly couple, believed to have had a suicide pact, wrote a letter to a newspaper detailing their plans.

Bill and Wendy Ainscow, formerly of Wirral, walked into the sea off Tenerife after saying their mentally ill daughter had not had enough care.

Mr Ainscow, 75, died, and his 64-year-old wife is in hospital.

The pair wrote to the Liverpool Daily Post, saying their daughter, Lisa, 33, an Asperger's Syndrome sufferer, was "too much" for them to cope with.

Mr and Mrs Ainscow, who had been living in Birmingham, were picked up by a fishing boat from the sea last week. It is thought they had taken a cocktail of drugs.

The "suicide note" to the newspaper was posted only hours before the pair walked into the sea.

We have chosen that the only way out is to end our lives
Mr and Mrs Ainscow's letter
The condition suffered by Mr and Mrs Ainscow's daughter causes her to make demands for money, and she has racked up huge debts.

Last year Mr Ainscow, a former sub-postmaster, was jailed for stealing 50,000 in benefit books to help fund his daughter's addiction.

He was freed by the Court of Appeal when it heard about his circumstances.

In their letter the couple claims the NHS, to which they made an official complaint, failed to help them look after their daughter, who is "spending money faster than I can earn it".

The letter reads: "We realise now that this is an impossible task which we have had to abandon as she (Lisa) is proving to be too much for us to cope with.

Daughter sectioned

"There is still no attempt to provide any form of help, therefore we have chosen that the only way out is to end our lives.

"...We came to Tenerife on a cheap one-way flight and have been sleeping on the beach for the last three nights while we pondered the situation, but we realise that we will have to end our lives as there is no help whatsoever."

The couple said they were pleased when their daughter was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2003, but devastated when she was discharged 10 months later.

The Daily Post
The letter was received by the paper after Mr Ainscow's death
Lisa Ainscow's solicitor, Richard Nicholas, stressed that she was not responsible for her parents' suicide bid.

He said that she faces a potential backlash from "adverse publicity and reports which have virtually placed responsibility for her parent's death upon her".

"Lisa is an extremely vulnerable individual and such reports place her at great risk. "

Kevin Miller, director of Wirral social services, said: "We have had involvement with the family over an extended period and have worked hard to put measures in place which could help.

"We will of course review in detail, with our colleagues in health, what actions have been taken, and see what lessons can be learned."

'Years of torment'

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said: "One can only imagine the despair that drove Bill and Wendy Ainscow to their suicide pact and we feel overwhelming sympathy for Wendy and her daughter Lisa.

"We have been very aware of the family's distressing situation for some time.

"It is truly shocking that this couple had to fight for so many years to get their daughter treatment and that, when she was discharged from hospital by a tribunal, they were not informed, let alone given support.

"We believe that the mental health system has a duty to protect not only the life and health of the individual with mental health problems, but the family on whose lonely shoulders the burden of care so often falls.

"SANE is campaigning for the new Mental Health Act to give families like the Ainscows rights which could prevent years of torment."

Suicide pact theory in sea death
05 Nov 04 |  Merseyside

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