Army veteran and his wife die in tragic ‘suicide pact’ after becoming ‘too poor to live through the winter’

  • Couple had to walk ten miles a week to a soup kitchen for free food
  • Charity call for investigation after couple ‘slipped through the net’
  • Mark and Helen Mullins kept food in plastic bags in their garden because they couldn’t afford a fridge
  • Driven to despair at having to live off £57.50 a week
  • Poverty-stricken pair found dead in home last Friday
Tragic: Mark and Helen Mullins could not face another freezing winter on the poverty line, according to neighbours

An Army veteran and his wife were found dead in their home after becoming so poor they were living ‘hand to mouth’ on food handouts.

Mark and Helen Mullins died in an apparent suicide pact after being reduced to crushing poverty at their rundown home in Bedworth, Warwickshire, though this claim is being disputed by officials.

The couple were reduced to despair at having to live off just £57.50 a week, and had to walk ten miles each week to a soup kitchen to collect free vegetables.

Former soldier Mark, 48, and Helen, 59, who had learning difficulties, ‘slipped through the net’ and were found side-by-side in their home after not having access to the right benefits.

Police said at this stage they are treating the deaths as unexplained and they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Today Mencap, who work with people with learning disabilities, called for an investigation into the death.

Mark Goldring, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘This is a tragic case and this couple have clearly fallen through the net.

Military man: Mr Mullins served as a PE

‘We believe that there needs to be an independent inquiry to establish the circumstances which led to their deaths and what went wrong.

‘With the ever tightening eligibility criteria to access social care we are concerned that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people with a mild learning disability to get the advice and support they need.’

The couple had just one income from Mark’s benefits for the past two years, after he claimed his wife’s benefits were stopped.

He had not served in the forces for long enough to claim a pension and left under a cloud amid claims he was an alcoholic, friends said.

Mr Mullins was a PE instructor in the Army but fell on hard times after leaving the service.

She suffered from learning difficulties and social services took her 12-year-old daughter away last year after she was deemed to be incapable of caring for her.

As a result, her child benefits were stopped. She was ineligible to claim Jobseekers Allowance because she was not deemed fit to work.

Friends claimed although she would have been entitled to incapacity benefit, the couple feared Helen would be put into care so did not get the benefit.

They married in July this year despite them both being in a ‘point of crisis’ living in a house they could not afford to keep.

Charity workers have demanded how the ‘wonderful’ couple slipped through the net after not receiving the support they wanted from the state

In a poignant documentary filmed earlier this year, Mark spoke of the couple’s daily struggle to survive after having their benefits cut.

He said: ‘We couldn’t sign on the dole, we couldn’t get the incapacity established, we couldn’t get the disability established so basically we’re living on very little, hand-to-mouth.


Mark and Helen Mullins were left living on a measly £57.50 per week in a run-down property which has now been boarded up.

They would have received an additional £20.30 per week in child benefit before their 12-year-old was taken off them.

Helen was not eligible for disability benefit despite having learning difficulties because they feared she would be put into care if the full extent of her problems were known, friends said.

Mark had not been in the forces for long enough to claim a pension.

‘We’re surviving on food hand-outs and we live in one room of our property, because obviously we can’t afford to heat the rest.

Run-down: The property that Mark and Helen Mullins shared as they lived on £57.50 per week

‘What we do is the food that we govern is put into a big pot which I make up into a broth which we put into household bags which keeps us going through the week.

‘We don’t have a fridge, we don’t have a freezer. We put the food in the shed.’

Mr Mullins, who suffered abuse as a child before joining the Army, in the documentary blamed social services for failing to help him and his wife.

He said: ‘I think the system is very unkind. We have lost count of how many appeals we have had, we’ve got reams of paperwork and had help from the Citizens Advice Bureau and independent advocates.

‘We’ve had to fight tooth and nail every step of the way to get benefits.’

Former soldier Mark added: ‘The Jobcentre decided Helen couldn’t sign on as she was incapable of employment as she has no literacy and numeracy skills. We’re living hand to mouth.’

Salvation Army leader and leading Coventry charity worker Kervin Julien met the couple after they walked from Bedworth to Coventry to eat at a soup kitchen he ran in the city centre.

He told the Coventry Telegraph: ‘Mark talked about the difficulties they were having accessing the correct benefits. He also talked about the authorities taking Helen’s daughter away from her but not acknowledging her mental health problems.

‘I did see Mark two or three weeks ago. He was really upset. He said he and Helen had been staying with relatives and friends to try and avoid the authorities, as they believed they wanted to section Helen.

‘Mark was absolutely devoted to Helen… they just wanted support’

‘Mark was absolutely devoted to Helen and didn’t want to be separated from her – they just wanted support.

Warwickshire Police said Mr and Mrs Mullins were found at their house in Bedworth on Thursday November 4.

Those who knew the couple believe they may have been there for up to two weeks before neighbours and relatives raised the alarm.

One neighbour said yesterday: ‘They obviously couldn’t face another freezing winter and felt they had no other choice but to kill themselves.’

Tony Lloyd, deputy leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Council, said: ‘We are saddened to hear about the deaths.’

‘We are working closely with the police as they carry out their investigations, and therefore there is very little information we can release about the couple at this time.’

A Warwickshire Police spokesman said: ‘We’re waiting for toxicology tests to establish how the two people died.’

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘The couple in question had been receiving weekly benefits from the Department since February 2010 – these included money for disability and caring responsibilities as well as out of work support. 

‘We had not received any complaint from them about their benefit claim.’

11 thoughts on “Army veteran and his wife die in tragic ‘suicide pact’ after becoming ‘too poor to live through the winter’

  1. Martin Butler on Facebook says:

    Good enough to wear uniform and be sent to die in that uniform by Govt, now he has hit hard times it is easier for the state if he (and his wife) die and save some money, I hope cameron is pleased that the Govt has just saved £57.50 a week, I equally hope that somewhere in the “Mother of Parliaments” the expenses loving MP’s who allowed this situation to happen now realise if you leave people with nothing, they have nothing to lose, and when that happens MP’s will find themselves looking at more avoidable deaths and at the same time looking over their shoulders to see if they are being followed by someone with ……”nothing to lose”…..

  2. Jon Eldude on Facebook says:

    This unfortunately the reality of most politicians thinking, they have no idea and couldn’t care less any way once in power especially those born to be rich. their are going to be alot more of this most of which we wont hear about or wont associate with the politicians of death. this is the reason why the system put these people over us

  3. deespicy says:

    This story came to my attention yesterday morning,and it reflects my wife’s and I situation in a small way though we are in a somewhat less unfortunate position.It was very moving story so I decided to share it. I used Facebook David Cameron page,because I was so angry.Now this very morning would you believe after 18 months we recieved a reply from the appeal section for claiming sickness benefit at the beginning of 2010 with an appointment date.I don’t for one second think this is just coincidence,more of a case of spying by the authorities,trying to cover their backs.Without going into too many details my wife was having somekind of fit, and only now with recent diagnosis it seems this was diabetic,so she was pushed back into work by one of our local GP’s even though I had told him that physical work (chef) brought on these frightening attacks.We are self employed so during that time our business came to a standstill.Hopefully when we see the diabetes nurse next week we will be able to re-start business with more confidence,in the possesion of the right medicine and advice instead of risking my wife’s health any further.

  4. Gary Scott says:

    What a fucking disgrace. When are the rest of the UK going to wake up. Probably when the mainstream media stop demonising us. I won’t commit suicide but I would willingly get shot trying to top that bastard Cameron.

  5. jay says:

    Iain Duncan Shit should be extremely pleased with himself, this is the reality of getting people off benefits.

    A man who served his country, a man too scared to claim benefits in case he lost his wife after losing their child to state care.

    The most horrific thing is something like this could easily happen to anyone else on benefits that is sanctioned.

    Well done DWP your out of work support helped them so much! and I’m sure Atos would have refused them ESA if they had managed to overcome all the obstacles in their way to make a claim for it.

    What a vile disgusting government we have.

  6. Nigel Simmons says:

    This is another very sad case that epitomises the regime in charge’s conduct ,don’t the thick Tory bastards know that life is cyclic and their inhumane actions against the public will be turned around and they will be on the receiving end of similar misfortunes.Hitlers top Nazi’s thought they were untouchable and look what happened to them.
    Cameron ,Osborne ,ID Smith and Grayling are no more than lying thieves who rule this Country through fear and illegal acts against the populace through their total ignorance of decency .They must learn that their authority is only ‘lent’ the populace are the real voice of democracy in this Country and we will be taking it back .History repeats itself enjoy your short stay and be ready to reap the repercussions of your inhumane actions .

  7. sue says:

    i know just how the couple feel my benefits are shrinking and the cost of living is going up, and come april i will be having to pay bedroom tax cause i dare to want to have my autistic child home for weekends, and he has to have his own room, its all wrong i am housbound so already have not much of a life stuck in my house 24/7, not being able to aford to have my heating on and soon not being able to aford internet access, which is my only contact with the world, so at that point when there is nothing to look forward to except another day in solitary confinment apart from a visit for 60 seconds from meals on wheels at lunch time it comes down to that question is it worth the fight, i hope that David Cameron and his party, and all you tax payers out there who buy into this why should my taxes be used on the work shy crap end up like me, because once many years ago I WAS YOU !!!

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