INQUEST HEARS EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF WISBECH COUPLE'S CURIOUS DEATHS

PUBLISHED: 16:57 22 July 2008 | UPDATED: 08:33 02 June 2010

THEY planned to die in each others arms after taking an overdose. But it didn t work. Days later though a husband – who thought he was a woman living inside a man s body – succeeded with a second overdose. The Wisbech couple s inquests also heard how the

THEY planned to die in each others' arms after taking an overdose. But it didn't work.

Days later though a husband - who thought he was a woman living inside a man's body - succeeded with a second overdose.

The Wisbech couple's inquests also heard how they thought they were in a lesbian relationship and were surrogates for two baby dolls.

Stephanie Slater, who suffered with bipolar disorder, was described as probably being in a "disturbed state" by a coroner.

Meanwhile, the parents of her husband John - who was known as Manda - told how their son turned against them because they did not accept that he wanted to live like a woman.

"He was born a man and never had an operation," said Roy and Shirley Slater.

"He was always known as John and suddenly, when he met Stephanie eight years ago, we noticed he started to change.

"When he was single he liked nothing better but getting covered in oil. He lived the life of a man and suddenly he turned against us because we did not accept it."

The couple's story came out during and after their inquests on Monday, in which north-east Cambridgeshire coroner William Morris recorded their deaths as self-administered overdoses of drugs.

Stephanie Slater, 28, died on January 8 at the couple's home in Prince Street, after taking a cocktail of prescription drugs and paracetamol.

She had been on a prescription of drugs for stomach pains, wisdom tooth pains and depression for several years.

John Slater, who was 38, died on January 16, also at the couple's home, and after an overdose of antidepressants. He had a history of anxiety and stress-related illness.

Their inquests heard how the couple gave a friend two life-sized dolls two days before the first overdose.

Jenny Seifert told the inquest at Wisbech Court House: "Manda was not able to reproduce and they were both convinced that Stephanie had cancer, and that her reproductive system was not working either.

"I saw on one occasion some photographs taken of Manda with her legs open and holding the baby (doll) as if she had given birth."

Mrs Seifert added that she once saw Stephanie Slater pushing a large pram in Wisbech Park - and saw the two dolls when she looked inside the pram.

"Manda explained to me they were like surrogates," she said.

Mrs Seifert said being given the dolls meant "they were preparing themselves for suicide".

She added: "They had done this about three or four times during the time I had known them.

"They would say this is it, we are going to do it, and they would go home. But I expected to ring later that week or next and have Manda pick up the phone.

Mrs Seifert spoke to John Slater days after Stephanie Slater's death. John Slater told her: "We ballsed it up."

Mrs Seifert said: "I took it to mean they had really done it and Manda had woken up, which was not meant to happen. They were meant to go together."

A statement from the couple's GP, Dr Mandeep Sira of North Brink Practice, also revealed that John Slater suffered from an "identity disorder", which saw believe he was a woman.

"I had consultations with him about this on August 8, 2007," he said. "We had a long conversation about his identity and he did not want to consider referral at the time."

Dr Sira added that Stephanie Slater said she was "happy living together with her wife Manda in a lesbian relationship" in a consultation in November 2006.

Det Sgt Dave York told the inquest that a suicide note was found sellotaped to Mr Slater's body, after his body had been taken to the mortuary at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

Addressed to "the pathologist", it said how he was actually born a woman and had surgery as an infant and was brought up a boy.

Det Sgt York also said: "In addition PCSO Terry McCormack had been told by a neighbour that the couple indicated they would see Christmas but not January.

"My supervisor, DI Simmons, recovered from another neighbour a suitcase described as a time capsule from Stephanie's death. Manda tried to recover that and that was presented to my DI."

Inside the suitcase were letters, notes, mementoes and a letter to police dated "June" stating that, by the time they got the letter, Mr and Mrs Slater would have been dead for two days and police would be left to clear up the mess.

The letter added they would use cannabis, alcohol, prescription drugs and inject drugs before going to heaven.

"They were intending to take their lives," said Det Sgt York.

A statement from John Slater, written after his wife's death, was read out at her inquest and stated they went to bed at 9pm on January 7.

"We laid in bed cuddling up in each other's arms," it said. "I do not remember her waking up.

"I then woke up at 5.30pm (on January 8) and still had my arms around Stephanie. She was very cold. I felt around her mouth, which was very stiff.

"I went downstairs and spoke to Alan Boorer (housemate) and I said 'I think she's dead'. He checked and said 'I think she is'. It was then that I called police."

In summing up Stephanie Slater's inquest, Mr Morris said: "I am clear that Stephanie Slater had psychiatric problems and was probably in a disturbed state.

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