Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 17:57 UK

Deaths of cliff jump pair suicide

Puttick Family
The Puttick family funeral took place on 17 July

A couple jumped to their deaths from Beachy Head in an "act too shocking to contemplate" after their paralysed son died, an inquest has heard.

Neil and Kazumi Puttick, aged 34 and 44 and from Wiltshire, were found dead at the notorious suicide spot near Eastbourne in East Sussex, on 1 June.

Their five-year-old son Samuel, who had been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in 2005, had died on 29 May.

The coroner recorded verdicts of suicide on the deaths of the couple.

The cause of death given for both Mr and Mrs Puttick, who lived at Wishing Well Farm in Brokerswood, Westbury, was multiple injuries.

In a statement their friend Sally Moore said: "After his death, it would seem that his adoring parents took their lives in an act too shocking to contemplate."

Their intense care and Sam's total dependency makes it entirely understandable that Neil and Kazumi Puttick took the decision that they did
Coroner Alan Craze

The couple "devoted their lives" to caring for Sam, who "would be seen whizzing around the house and garden in his wheelchair", added Ms Moore, a solicitor who acted in the family's compensation fight after the 2005 crash.

Family friend Paul Taylor said in the aftermath of Sam's car accident, Mrs Puttick "did not want him to live". He said: "She didn't cope well at all.

"She said that she couldn't cope with it and didn't want to carry on," said Mr Taylor.

The inquest heard Sam was admitted to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children with pneumococcal meningitis on 27 May.

Professor Alexander Henderson, a paediatric consultant, told the inquest at Uckfield Civic Centre how Mr and Mrs Puttick were allowed to take Sam home to die peacefully after it became apparent he had no chance of survival.

Sam Puttick
Sam was wrapped in a small duvet inside a large rucksack

Prof Henderson described Mr Puttick's reaction to his son's death as "appropriate disbelief".

"His words to me were, 'It's as if someone is trying to break up our happy family'," he said.

Describing his reaction to their deaths, Prof Henderson said: "It was shocking to learn of their deaths, and having gone over the circumstances I cannot think of a single feature that gave me anxiety at the time."

The Putticks drove to Beachy Head in their Volkswagen people carrier, adapted to fit Sam's wheelchair, and jumped from the 535ft (163m)-high cliffs.

Coroner's officer Ali Warner said Sam was in clean clothes, wrapped in a small duvet inside a large rucksack.

Recording verdicts of suicide for both parents, coroner Alan Craze said their actions were "entirely understandable" given their intense care for their son.

"I have the greatest admiration for all that Neil and Kazumi did for their son," said Mr Craze.

"He was their life and his sudden and cruel death after all he had gone through devastated his parents.

"Their intense care and Sam's total dependency makes it entirely understandable that Neil and Kazumi Puttick took the decision that they did."

Following the hearing, NHS Bath and North East Somerset said in a statement: "The deaths of Neil and Kazumi Puttick are tragic and have deeply touched many staff including those who looked after Sam.

"We offer our sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of the family."



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SEE ALSO
Jump death family inquest to open
11 Sep 09 |  Wiltshire
Fund set up for jump death family
07 Sep 09 |  Wiltshire
Funeral for suicide leap family
17 Jun 09 |  Wiltshire
Suicide jump boy had died at home
02 Jun 09 |  Sussex

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