Penicuik brother and sister lay dead for weeks

Police attend the house where the siblings were found. Picture: Hemedia
Police attend the house where the siblings were found. Picture: Hemedia
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THE bodies of an elderly brother and sister could have lain undiscovered in their home for up to a month, police said yesterday.

Williamina Thomson, 80, and her brother John Guthrie, 78, were found dead at their home in Royal Court, Penicuik, on Monday. It is understood that Mrs Thomson, who was housebound, died after her brother, who cared for her, passed away unexpectedly.

Yesterday police said they were treating the deaths as medical and “unexplained” and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Forensic officers continued to search the house and the property’s doors and windows were sealed yesterday, while two officers guarded the scene.

Midlothian Council said that Mrs Thomson and Mr Guthrie were not known to its social care department. The pensioners, who came to Penicuik from Shetland, were described as “private” by their neighbours.

Mrs Thomson – known to neighbours as Win – had lived in the cul-de-sac for many years, and her brother had moved in more recently.

It is understood that concerns were raised about the pensioners’ welfare when their post began to jam in the letterbox.

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Residents of Royal Court yesterday spoke of their shock at the deaths, but said they had not seen the siblings in weeks. One neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “Win had arthritis. I hadn’t seen her for a long time – I thought she was housebound.

“John stayed here but he would sometimes go up to Shetland. I thought that’s where he was.”

She said Mr Guthrie, who was a bachelor, “seemed healthy enough” but that she had not seen him “in a while”.

It is understood he had moved to Penicuik this year to look after his sister. She added: “It’s horrible to think about what could have happened – but you don’t want to interfere.

“It’s very tragic. It has really hit the neighbours because you feel so terrible. The police have been here since Monday night.”

A regular at the Crown Inn, which Mr Guthrie occasionally visited, added: “He did all the cooking, cleaning and looking after his sister.

“Although he was in his 70s, I think he was too proud to ask for help. They never had any help from the council.

“John was a fit man, although he was in his seventies. He had absolutely no health problems.”

Mrs Thomson’s husband is understood to have died several years ago and neither she nor Mr Guthrie are believed to have family in the area.

A police spokesman said officers were awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination to confirm the causes of death and could not comment on the circumstances other than they were currently unexplained.

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