Nobody To Blame For Suicide And "Unlawful Killing"
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 9, 2002
DURHAM, ENGLAND--An independent report has determined that no individual or agency was to blame for the deaths last year of Helen Rogan and her son, Mark Owen.
County Durham child protection officials ordered the report after the bodies of the mother and son were discovered below a railway viaduct on the morning of September 18, 2001.
The county coroner officially ruled that Rogan, 38, killed herself and her 11-year-old son, who had autism, by holding onto the boy as she plunged 180 feet from the viaduct to their deaths.
During a January inquest investigators revealed that Rogan had tried to overdose herself and her son with prescription drugs. When this did not work, she tried slashing both of their wrists. After the two recovered from those attempts the single mother drove the short distance to the bridge and jumped with the boy.
North Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a verdict of suicide for Rogan and unlawful killing for Mark.
"It is abundantly clear to me that she was the most loving and caring parent," Tweddle explained. "I suspect she would not face the prospect of Mark being taken away from her to be cared for in an institution."
Child care expert Alan Barton, who wrote the report released last Friday, said that there was no prior evidence to suggest that Rogan would act the way she did.
"All the evidence would indicate that Ms. Rogan was a competent and committed lone parent who strenuously sought to ensure that Mark achieved his social, emotional and educational potential."
The report noted that during the last year of Mark's life, there was a significant reduction in the number of reports about his "challenging behavior".
After the deaths, a friend said that Rogan had been worried about how she might handle Mark's disability as he got older. The friend added that Rogan may also have been afraid that local social services might remove the boy from the home.
Social service officials later said that there had been no plans to separate the boy and his mother.