Friends shocked at deaths of South Shields mother and son

AN inquest into the deaths of a mother and son found dead at their home has been opened.

AN inquest into the deaths of a mother and son found dead at their home has been opened.

Elizabeth and Robert Douthwaite were discovered in their home in Heron Drive, South Shields, when a window cleaner raised the alarm last Thursday.

Yesterday an inquest into their deaths was opened and adjourned.

It is not yet known how the pair died but Northumbria Police said there was no third-party involvement.

They also said that a report had been prepared for the coroner.

The deaths of Mrs Douthwaite and her son came just a week after pensioners Jim and Marjorie Arnett were found dead at their house on Biddlestone Road, Heaton, Newcastle, on January 9. Officers are treating the deaths of the couple, who were both in their 80s, as unexplained but have ruled out third-party involvement.

Forensic tests are being carried out to establish the exact cause.

Mr Douthwaite, 44, was a keen photographer and in the 1990s was commissioned by South Shields Library to take pictures for a book comparing the town’s past and present.

He returned to landscapes and streets of the area to retrace the steps of previous photographers. He then snapped the same frames decades on.

The book, called South Shields Then & Now, published in 1996, revealed just how the town had changed over the years and the book was popular with local historians.

Neighbours and friends paid tribute to 73-year-old Elizabeth and to Robert. Robin Johnson, 71, of nearby Wellington Drive, said: “A window cleaner spotted something was wrong. He said a light had been on for a couple of weeks and he noticed flies up at the window.

“It is such a shame.

“The pair were lovely. But we all keep ourselves to ourselves, and they did the same. We knew them but hadn’t seen them for a while and then we heard the news. Robert was a great photographer, he loved taking pictures and he was very good at it.

“He took the pictures for a book made by South Shields Library about the town. That was his passion, taking pictures.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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Stuart Rayner
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