Yorkshire couple and their dogs found dead at home two months after they were last heard from

A Yorkshire couple were found dead in their home, alongside their dogs, two months after a neighbour last spoke to them, an inquest heard.

Barrie Dunne, aged 69, and Amanda Ayres-Dunne, 49, were both found dead in their home on Sicey Avenue in Shiregreen, Sheffield, on May 13, 2022.

Mrs Ayres-Dunne's brother Paul Patrick, her sister-in-law Maurine Patrick, and her niece Clare all attended the inquest at Sheffield’s Medico Legal Centre on October 4. Outside the court, they described the couple as "loving and happy".

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Mrs Ayres-Dunne was a mother of three and was a good dancer in her younger years, taking part in many shows, they said.

Couple Amanda Ayres-Dunne and Barrie Dunne were tragically found dead in their home with their dogs.Couple Amanda Ayres-Dunne and Barrie Dunne were tragically found dead in their home with their dogs.
Couple Amanda Ayres-Dunne and Barrie Dunne were tragically found dead in their home with their dogs.

The inquest was told South Yorkshire Police had first been made aware of their deaths on May 13 last year after a neighbour who had moved into the property next door had contacted Sanctuary Housing Association about a smell.

Giving evidence, Detective Sergeant Helen Critchley said officers decided to force entry where the bodies of Mr Dunne and Mrs Ayres-Dunne were found in the living room, along with the bodies of their two dogs.

Door-to-door enquiries were carried out by police. They spoke to a neighbour who occasionally did some shopping for the couple, and it was thought that this neighbour was the last person to speak to them, on March 15.

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Det Sgt Critchley added no neighbours had heard any barking or whimpering from the dogs, which led the force to believe that they must have all died at or around the same time. The force’s investigation could not conclude a cause of death, but said there was no involvement of a third party.

The Health and Safety Executive visited the property on July 4 to find any other potential cause of death. The boiler was not found to have a leak, and there was no recording of carbon monoxide at the time of their visit. Routine maintenance visits from Sanctuary Association Housing had also reported no faults.

The inquest heard Mr Dunne and Mrs Ayres-Dunne had a top-up prepayment meter for their gas and electric. The gas was last topped up on March 17, and went off on April 6, and the electric was topped up on March 10, and went off on April 11.

Mr Dunne, who was originally from Coventry, was unemployed at the time of his death. The inquest was told he had suffered a few health conditions, including depression, COPD, and epilepsy, though he had not had a seizure in a number of years. He had a GP appointment on March 21 which he did not attend.

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A post mortem carried out by Dr Charles Wilson found Mr Dunne was "quite significantly decomposed" which "complicated" the examination. Mr Dunne had coronary heart disease which Dr Wilson said he would have ruled as the cause of death with "no hesitation" if it were not for the circumstances. Carbon monoxide was also found in his body

Mrs Ayres-Dunne was also "significantly decomposed", but there was no disease found. A level of carbon monoxide was found in her body at at the upper end of that seen in someone who smokes.

It was not possible to determine the time of death of the couple. Dr Wilson ruled both deaths as "unascertained", and said: "There are too many unknowns here."

Steven Morley, of NCA, was asked by South Yorkshire Police to review the toxicology results of the carbon monoxide findings. He said it was "more likely that the carbon monoxide was lower at the time of death", and that "there were no other cause of death" found in toxicology findings.

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Assistant coroner Natalie James recorded an open conclusion for both deaths.

Sending her condolences to the family, she said: "I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you cherish your memories and that they give you comfort."