The bodies of Aleasha Sullivan, 32, and Joshua Sandercock, 30, were found in their apartment in Holcombe, Devon, in October 2021 by police who were called after concerns were raised for them.
A young couple found dead in their home had individually died of natural causes in a “very rare” case, an inquest heard.
But despite the fact that both were found dead on the property, investigations determined that the couple had died of natural causes completely independent of each other.
Inquests at Plymouth Coroner’s Court heard that Sullivan had a domestic violence protection order against Sandercock after he was charged with the alleged assault on her. Police were called to her home after her supportworker expressed concern that she had not been seen or heard from for days and found her body against the door.
Aleasha Sullivan Bodies found together but deaths entirely unrelated
When they later searched the duplex, they found Sandercock’s body upstairs. It could not be confirmed when he entered the apartment or how long he was there before his death.
The inquest heard that police initially treated the flat as a possible crime scene until medical examinations of the couple’s bodies revealed that they had both died of natural causes completely independently of each other.
Thorough investigations found that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding their deaths and there were no signs of a disturbance to the property or involvement of third parties.
Home Office forensic pathologist Dr. Deborah Cook concluded that Sullivan had died of pulmonary thromboembolism, a blood clot in the lungs. The investigation heard that she had a history of drug dependency, mental health problems, and clotting problems in her legs, and she had spent some time in prison.
However, she was committed to support services and it was said that she was motivated to improve her situation, overcome her problems and establish a supportive relationship.
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Police staff investigator Paul Cashman, who told the inquiry the case was a set of “very unusual circumstances”, said she was last seen on October 12 when she went to pick up her methadone prescription at the pharmacy.
Police conducted a “drive-through” on October 19 before breaking in and finding her body on October 21. Needle marks were found on her body and toxicology tests confirmed that she had taken heroin at some point before her death, but it is not believed to have been the cause of her death.
Dr. Cook added that there were no signs of any trauma to her body to suggest that she had been assaulted or that she had fallen down the stairs.
South Devon coroner’s assistant Mike Bird said: “I would imagine as a family it’s quite a startling conclusion considering where the investigation began and that two people were found on the same premises at the same time.”
“Initial and natural speculation was that the two deaths were linked, but after that detailed investigation there is no evidence to suggest that Aleasha died from any other than completely natural causes.”
Recording a verdict of death by natural causes for her, he said: “Despite the unusual situation in which another person was found deceased at the same address at the same time, there is no evidence after forensic, medical and police investigations that suggest causes of death. The deaths of the two individuals were somehow related.”
A separate inquest into Sandercock’s death found her cause of death to be pneumonia. Toxicology tests showed that she had taken methadone, which had not been prescribed, in the hours before her death.
The amount consumed was not generally associated with deaths, but pathologist Dr Cook said: “Methadone may have tipped the scales in a man suffering from pneumonia and caused respiratory compromise resulting in death.”
Medical records revealed that she had a history of asthma, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, including cocaine and cannabis, and mental health problems. She had previously suffered overdoses related to her drug use and had spent periods of time in prison.
His stepmother, who had last spoken to him on October 8, said that despite a court order, he and Sullivan “could not be separated.”
Recording a finding of natural causes for Joshua’s death, the coroner said: “It can be said very clearly that there is no evidence for the suggestion that the deaths were connected other than by complete coincidence.
“Neither one of them had anything to do with the death of the other. I can imagine how the community might view that conclusion. “Here we deal with evidence and the evidence clearly from all sources says there was no connection.”
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