BBC broadcaster John Stevenson had likely already died from natural causes when his partner and full-time carer tried lifting his body before collapsing with a heart attack and dying beside him, an inquest heard.
John Stevenson, 68, was found dead on the floor of his living room in Aberdare, Wales, with the body of his partner, Mark Turner, aged in his 60s, alongside him.
South Wales Central Coroner’s Court was told Mr Turner may have been trying to lift his partner, who had suffered poor health after a stroke.
Both men died of natural causes but it may have been days before their bodies were discovered on March 12, 2020, by police who had forced entry to their rented terrace home.
A district nurse had raised concerns after she had been unable to reach Mr Stevenson or his partner. No inquest is being held into Mr Turner’s death, as it was found to be from natural causes.
Tributes were paid to BBC political correspondent Mr Stevenson who former colleagues described as ‘a genius with a brain the size of a planet.’
John Stevenson (pictured above), 68, was found dead on the floor of his living room in Aberdare, Wales, with the body of his partner, Mark Turner, alongside him
The father-of-two quit the BBC in 1985 and spent eight years living rough during a time in his life he referred to as ‘a career break’.
He was saved by a police officer who, after arresting him for drunkenness, helped to get him off the booze in the early nineties.
Former Labour MP Ann Clwyd gave him a job until 1997 when he rejoined the BBC working in London and Cardiff.
His Welsh language autobiography Ar Fy Ngwaethaf (At My Worst) is described as: ‘An amazing story of survival. Having fallen from grace, not once but three times, he managed to rebuild his life and career. A colourful and memorable story told with honesty.’
A 2015 TV documentary on Welsh language TV station S4C reunited him with the police officer who helped put him back on the straight and narrow.
Mr Stevenson retired from the BBC in 2013 and lived in Aberdare, South Wales, with his partner of 25 years Mr Turner, who gave up his job with an online retail firm to be his carer.
Police were called to their home in March 2020 after a nurse became concerned when she could not get an answer by phone.
Detectives found the pair dead alongside each other in their lounge and investigated whether they had carried out a suicide pact.
But a post mortem revealed Mr Turner, in his sixties, died of a heart attack and an inquest this week ruled Mr Stevenson also died naturally although a pathologist could not determine the precise cause of death.
Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Stephen Leadbeatter told the inquest in Pontypridd: ‘The younger man’s arms appeared to be in a position suggesting an attempt by him to lift the other man.
‘I understood further that crime scene investigators had seen nothing suggesting violence or a struggle at the premises.’
Friends said the two men were devoted to each other and it was ‘sad but poignant’ that they had died together.
A former BBC Wales colleague said: ‘They had been together for a quarter of a century – John had a lot of health problems but they were happy together.
‘It was a mystery that they were found dead together but medical tests showed they both went from natural causes.
‘We’ll never know how long apart but if it was on the same day then it’s sad but poignant that they went together.’
Mr Stevenson worked with veteran BBC newsreader Huw Edwards both in London and Cardiff.
The exact circumstances of Mr Stevenson’s death were not known but it is likely he died from natural causes having been in poor health after suffering a stroke, the court heard
Another BBC journalist who worked alongside Mr Stevenson said: ‘He had amazing knowledge and insight of British politics. He was a genius in a way and had a brain the size of a planet.
‘But he was so heavily tied up with Welsh language TV that it put the break on his career.
‘I’ll always remember him chain smoking outside the BBC studios in Bangor. John would throw his butts into the garden – there was a mound of them the size of a beachball.’
The inquest heard Mr Stevenson had retired in 2013 and moved from North Wales to Aberdare in 2017.
His friend Bethan Price, a former BBC colleague, said her last contact with Mr Turner was on February 26.
She said Mr Stevenson had suffered a second stroke in 2017 and his mobility and speech declined, with Mr Turner acting as his full-time carer.
She said: ‘I was in regular contact with Mark. My last contact with Mark was on February 26. I texted again on March 8 and got no reply. John’s daughter contacted me on March 13 notifying me of their deaths.’
The inquest heard a nurse attended their home on March 5 for a routine appointment but could not get an answer.
Police were alerted when a follow up call was made a week later, which also got no response.
James Morris, a detective with South Wales Police, said: ‘Both gentlemen were deceased in the lounge.
‘It appears Mark may have been trying to pull Mr Stevenson up from the floor.’
During an inquest into Mr Stevenson’s death, South Wales Central Coroner’s Court (file photo above) heard the discovery was made on March 12, 2020, by police who had forced entry to the pair’s rented home
South Wales Central Assistant Coroner David Regan said it was ‘likely’ Mr Stevenson died prior to March 12 but he was unable to give an exact date of death.
He said: ‘Mr Stevenson had a previous medical history of stroke and significantly reduced mobility.
‘On March 12 he was found deceased on the floor of the living room of his home by police responding to a welfare concern.
‘Also present was his deceased partner who cared for him. The property was secure and there was no suspicion of the involvement of any other person.
‘While it has not been possible to ascertain the cause of Mr Stevenson’s death, it is likely to be natural.’
Mr Regan recorded a conclusion of natural causes.
Source: Daily Mail