Suicide pact brothers died from gunshots in abdomen

Robert McIlwain
Robert McIlwain
0
Have your say

TWO elderly brothers who died in a suicide pact were both killed by shotgun wounds to the abdomen, it was revealed today.

The death certificates for tragic Robert and John McIlwain, 73 and 71, confirmed they suffered shotgun blasts to the body which police believe were self-inflicted.

John McIlwain

John McIlwain

The siblings – known as Bob and Jack – were found dead in their shared home in Lockerby Cottages, Gracemount on May 29.

The men were not believed to have any close family but police have now traced next of kin after appealing for help earlier this week.

The McIlwains were both bachelors and worked as gardeners before retirement.

They were declared dead at 6.25pm shortly after their bodies were discovered. Their death certificates were both signed by friend SL Speakman in the absence of any relatives.

A police spokeswoman said: “There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Robert and John McIlwain. A report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.”

Police raced to the house at around 5pm last Thursday and discovered their bodies. Armed officers and even a police helicopter were deployed to the scene amid concerns of an ongoing firearms incident.

John McIlwain had been left housebound by his deteriorating health. Elder sibling Bob McIlwain had long cared for his disabled brother but his own health had began failing in the last 18 months as he battled pulmonary fibrosis linked to asbestos exposure.

Neighbour Anne Parker, 83, said the brothers wanted her husband, Frank, 82, to witness them signing their wills a few weeks before their deaths, but it was not ready on time.

Mrs Parker believes the brothers agreed on a suicide pact so the other would not be left alone. She said: “I can only imagine they had planned it and that it was done out of love.”

Frank Parker, a retired minister, said: “Jack had been disabled from birth by a hip problem, but he was still able to work and drive and get around. But he couldn’t really do much in his last years and was eventually housebound with Bob looking after him.

“Bob was reasonably fit until about 18 months ago. When he was young he worked with asbestos and that gave him problems with his lungs.

“I had no idea they had a gun in the house and was quite shocked when I found out. They never mentioned it, or said they went shooting or anything. The only activities they had were playing golf, which they had stopped doing, and the garden.”

Neighbours said Bob had been heartbroken after illness made him unable to tend his beloved garden and was forced to hire a gardener instead.

Bob McIlwain was born in February 1941 while his brother was born on Hogmanay the following year. Their father, electrician Robert McIlwain, died in 1982 aged 67 while their mother, Nora, passed away in 1992 aged 74.

amcewen@edinburghnews.com