Police appeal for witnesses as they investigate deaths of girl, 17, and man, 18, found hanged in suspected suicide pact at a nature reserve
Police are today appealing for witnesses as they investigate the deaths of two teenagers found hanged in a suspected suicide pact at a nature reserve.
The bodies of a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old man were found at Bothenhampton Reservoir, near Bridport, on the morning of January 25.
Police were called to the scene after a dog walker raised the alarm but nothing could be done to save the teenagers.
The identity of the individuals is not being released until an inquest is formally opened by a coroner on the request of the families, Dorset Police said.
Dorset Police said their deaths are being treated as non-suspicious but investigators are now trying to establish the circumstances on behalf of the coroner.
Officers are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the teenagers in the Bridport or West Bay area between Saturday January 22 and Tuesday January 25.
The bodies of a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old man were found at Bothenhampton Reservoir, near Bridport, on the morning of January 25. Pictured: Bothenhampton Nature Reserve
The man is described as white, around 5ft7in, slim and with short, dark hair, a short beard and brown eyes.
He was wearing brown lace-up boots, light grey tracksuit bottoms, a dark T-shirt and a navy hooded Parka-style jacket with a brown patch on the left arm.
The girl is described as white, around 5ft5in, of slim build and with dark brown, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes.
She was wearing black and white trainers, light grey tracksuit bottoms, a navy Puffer-style jacket and a pink scarf.
The force has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) over the deaths due to prior contact with those involved.
The IOPC said yesterday: ‘We are currently assessing the available information to determine what further action may be required from us.’
A spokeswoman for the force said: ‘Dorset Police has made a mandatory referral to the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) in line with procedures related to the death or serious injury of an individual. We await further guidance from the IOPC on the matter.’
Certain incidents must be automatically referred to the IOPC by law, including when someone had direct or indirect contact with the police ‘when or shortly before they were seriously injured and died.’
Forces are required to make a referral ‘where the contact may have caused or contributed to the death or injury.’
Other complaints, such as allegations of serious corruption, serious assault, or misconduct must also be automatically referred.
The tragic incident happened in a secluded wooded area in the village of Bothenhampton, which is about one mile from West Bay – the setting for the hit ITV crime drama Broadchurch.
Ian Bark, the mayor of Bridport, said the community would be shocked by the double tragedy.
‘My sympathies go out to the friends and families of these young people. It’s very sad to hear that two people who are both so young have died.’
Pictured: A police cordon tape at Bothenhampton Nature Reserve
Residents in the quiet neighbourhood of Wych Hill are shocked after the deaths of the teenagers.
A man, who wished not to be named, said: ‘I heard it was a suicide pact between two young people. It’s dreadful. Certainly not something you expect to happen on your doorstep.
‘Police and an ambulance were here from 10am until 5pm. The fire engine had difficulty getting access (to the reserve).’
Another resident described the location where it happened as ‘beautiful and quiet’.
He said: ‘It’s quite worrying that something like that could happen here.’
And residentJoe Hackett said: ‘It’s an awful thing to happen and we have never had anything like this happen around here.
‘It’s very upsetting and the community can’t believe what has happened. It’s the last thing you expect to happen in such a quiet community.
‘It will likely leave the area in shock for some time because there has only been rumours about what happened. Our community has not had confirmation.’
Officers are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the teenagers in the Bridport or West Bay area between Saturday January 22 and Tuesday January 25. Pictured: Bothenhampton Nature Reserve
Detective Sergeant Simon Lee, of Dorset Police, said: ‘Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the two young people who tragically died.
‘As is normal in these cases, we are now making inquiries on behalf of the coroner’s office to establish the circumstances of the deaths.
‘Therefore, we are appealing for information from the public to help us piece together the two young people’s movements prior to their tragic deaths.’
He said they may have been carrying a pale green Nike bag.
DS Lee added: ‘Anyone who thinks they might be able to assist with our inquiries is asked to contact Dorset Police.’