Police investigating final hours of OAP couple found dead in Sunderland house

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POST-MORTEM examination results were today expected to confirm how two pensioners came to be found dead in the bedroom of their Sunderland home.

Detectives investigating the double death say they are “not looking” for any other suspects after the bodies of James and May Stokoe were discovered at the house they shared together in Hylton Castle Road.

Police were initially called to the Castletown property on Wednesday afternoon, after a relative raised the alarm.

May, 79, a former dinnerlady, and husband James, also 79, an ex-miner, known to friends as Jimmy, have lived in the street for a number of years.

Neighbours were today still coming to terms with the loss of two well-liked members of the community.

Sharon Robson, 42, a mum-of-two, has been friends with the couple for 16 years.

She said: “They were a canny couple, every time the bairns used to kick the balls over their wall and into their garden, they would always throw it back.

“Jim had cancer. He had been to hospital two weeks ago. We still can’t get over what has happened to them.

“May was often out and about, she walked past all the time to go to the shop.

“One day she walked past here, I went out thinking I would not be long but I was still standing there talking an hour later. She loved to chat.

“She has got three sons. I think one of them is away.

“We met the couple 16 years ago when we moved here. We got talking to them and we just clicked, they were really friendly. May always used to go on about her nieces, nephews and grandchildren.”

Steven Harrison, 49, said: “They’ve lived in that house for ages. I think Jimmy used to work at the colliery. Everyone’s just really surprised that something like this could have happened.”

Police remained at the house yesterday as neighbours began laying flowers next to the front gate.

The couple’s Citroen Picasso was parked in the driveway as forensic officers continued their investigation inside the property.

Councillor Doris Macknight, who represents the Castle Ward, said: “Although I didn’t know the family, I can only imagine everyone up there will also be very saddened by what’s happened. It’s a pretty quiet area.”

Mrs Stokoe is understood to have worked as a dinnerlady at nearby Castletown Primary School. The school declined to comment on the deaths.

Detective Chief Inspector Christina Barrett, who is leading the investigation into the death, said: “Although we are not looking for anyone else, inquiries continue to be carried out to establish exactly what has taken place.”

Sunderland Area Commander Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth said extra officers would remain in the area.

She added: “Having an incident like this in a close-knit community can be very traumatic for people.”

A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday evening for the Sunderland Coroner, who told the Echo the inquest into the deaths would not officially open until Tuesday.