Suicide pact couple named by police

A MAN and a woman who died in a car filled with toxic chemicals have been named by police.

A MAN and a woman who died in a car filled with toxic chemicals have been named by police.

The victims were Stephen Lumb, 35, of Charles Street, Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire and Joanne Lee, 34, from the White Court area of Great Notley, near Braintree.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We have liaised with the Essex Coroner Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray and an agreement has been reached that we will identify the two people found dead in a car in Braintree yesterday, Monday September 20.”

The bodies were discovered in the front seats of a blue Vauxhall Astra parked behind Braintree Enterprise Centre in Springwood Drive.

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The victims had left notes on the vehicle warning that toxic chemicals were inside and not to open the door.

It is one of the first cases of a chemical suicide using the deadly hydrogen sulfide to have occurred in the country.

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Adrian Maasz from the East of England Ambulance Service said: “This is an extremely worrying development. I am aware of two other cases in the UK but this is certainly the first in the East of England.”

He added that the deadly gas is created when two commonly available chemicals are mixed together and that it would cause a “fairly rapid death”.

Thirty business units on the industrial estate as well as Expect Health and Fitness had to be evacuated after the grim discovery was made by a worker at about 8.20am.

Alex Goodwin from cleaning company Molly Maid said: “I had arrived at work and was loading up my car when a man in a grey jumper came up to me and said something had happened in the car park and we needed to move away.

“Then the police turned up and started to cordon off the area. They took us into an office and said we had to get inside in case we were affected by the poisonous gas.

“After about 20 minutes we were given the all clear, but I wasn’t allowed to return to my car or the office.”

A specialist detection, identification and monitoring vehicle was called in from Kent Fire and Rescue to determine what the toxic gas was.

Firefighters wearing gas-tight suits were than able to remove both bodies from the car and eliminate all of the remaining chemicals by about 5pm.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Police continue to work closely with the other emergency services and other agencies at Braintree Enterprise Centre following a car being found with two people inside believed dead.

“These deaths are now being treated as unexplained at this stage and investigations are continuing in to the circumstances leading up to their discovery.

“On finding the car there were concerns in regard to chemical substances inside as indicated by signs outside of the car and chemical paraphernalia being on show inside.

“Police can confirm that the two people are adults, a man and a woman, and we can also confirm there is no risk to the public.”

Did you know the victims? Call us on 01206 571275.

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