Deadly gas could have killed pair in Ballycastle tragedy

The scene at The Abbey in Ballycastle where a couple would found dead in their home last Thursday night. �PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
The scene at The Abbey in Ballycastle where a couple would found dead in their home last Thursday night. �PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one possible cause of death being examined after the bodies of an elderly couple were recovered from a house in Co Antrim.

Rita Boughey, 79, and her 68-year-old husband Kenneth were found by Mrs Boughey’s son at their home in The Abbey area of Ballycastle on Thursday night.

Initial reports suggest the couple – who are originally from Liverpool – had been dead for a number of weeks.

The results of a post mortem have not yet been released.

When police, fire and ambulance crews attended the property around 8.30pm on Thursday, tests for carbon monoxide proved negative at that time.

However, PSNI chief inspector Mark McClarence said investigators were not ruling out the possibility that the deadly gas was responsible.

“At this time the deaths are being treated as unexplained. The post mortems will direct how the investigation progresses,” he said yesterday.

“I appreciate there has been a lot of speculation and comment around carbon monoxide as a possibility [of causing the deaths]. We are keeping a very open mind around that possibility.

“The home is going to be examined and that will be one line of inquiry.

“Fire Service did attend last night (Thursday) to check the property. At that stage it was safe for all the emergency services to enter; there was no sign of carbon monoxide.”

However, the officer said, investigators appreciate that the carbon monoxide could have been present some time ago but “may not be a factor now”.

Mr McClarence appealed for anyone who was in contact with the couple in the past few weeks to come forward.

“That could assist us and the family in getting to the bottom of what has happened,” he added.

The Abbey is a relatively new housing development of town houses and apartments built on the site of a former convent not far from the town centre.

Some of the properties are holiday homes while others are permanently occupied.

It is understood that the Bougheys had lived in the Ballycastle area for around 10 years after a spell living in Spain.

DUP MLA for North Antrim Mervyn Storey has expressed his shock at the deaths.

He said: “This is a devastating tragedy which has shocked everyone in the Ballycastle area.

“My thoughts are with the couple’s family and friends at this time and I would hope that the full details of this tragedy can be established.”