Teenagers, 18 and 17, who were found hanged at a Dorset nature reserve in a suspected suicide pact ‘were known to police’, inquest hears
An inquest has today been opened into the deaths of two tragic teenagers who were found dead in a nature reserve.
The bodies of Jack Williams, 18, and Katherine Powell, 17, were discovered by a member of public at Bothenhampton Nature Reserve near Bridport, Dorset, on the morning of January 25.
An initial post mortem examination has revealed the provisional cause of death for both of them was hanging.
The inquest opening heard that both Mr Williams and Miss Powell were known to police and identified by Dorset Police custody system images.
The force has referred itself to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), over the matter.
The bodies of 17-year-old Katherine Powell and an 18-year-old Jack Williams were found at Bothenhampton Reservoir, near Bridport, Dorset, on the morning of January 25
According to the IOPC’s website, one of the reasons a force should refer itself to them is ‘if someone had direct or indirect contact with the police when, or shortly before, they were seriously injured or died’ and where ‘the contact may have caused or contributed to the death or injury.’
Mr Williams, originally from Coventry, West Midlands, was single and unemployed. At the time of his death, he was living in West Bay, Dorset, the setting of the hit ITV crime drama Broadchurch.
Miss Powell was also single and unemployed, and her home address was given as Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
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.’
Residents in the quiet neighbourhood of Wych Hill awoke on Tuesday to the sound of sirens. Paul Williams, who lives in one of the houses on the lane, said: ‘It was a double hanging in the nature reserve.
‘The whole road was taped off. A dog walker found them. A police community support officer came here yesterday looking for CCTV but there isn’t any.’
Pictured: A police cordon tape at Bothenhampton Nature Reserve
Another man, who wished not to be named, added: ‘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’.
Coroner’s officer Grace Monro said: ‘Police and paramedics were called by a member of the public to Bothenhampton reservoir following the discovery of two unresponsive young persons, one male and one female.
‘They were both confirmed deceased at the scene.
‘The male was identified as Jack Williams who was known to the police and had had recent contact with them.
‘The matter has been referred to the IOPC and an image from the Dorset Police custody system was used to identify him.
‘The female’s identity was established as Katherine Powell who was known to the police and had had recent contact with them.
‘The matter has been referred to the IOPC and she was identified with a Dorset Police custody system image.
‘There are no evidence of third party involvement.’
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 post mortem examination was carried out by Dr Robert Blahut, at Holly Tree Lodge mortuary, Bournemouth.
Both bodies have been released to the families for funerals.
Dorset Senior Coroner Rachael Griffin adjourned the inquest at Bournemouth Town Hall until July 4 for a pre-inquest review.
For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.