POLICE are treating the deaths of two elderly brothers found dead at a house in Edinburgh as a suicide pact.
The men, named locally as John and Robert McIlwain, aged 71 and 73, were reportedly discovered by police with gunshot wounds to the stomach lying on top of a firearm at their home in Lockerby Cottages, Gracemount.
The Edinburgh Evening News reports police received a call from one of the brothers, who had warned he was going to kill himself. It is understood the force is now looking into claims that the men had both been licensed firearms holders and were terminally ill.
Neighbours said both men had health problems and speculated their deaths might be the result of a suicide pact, with one woman claiming her husband had been expecting to witness their wills.
The two brothers – known to neighbours as Jack and Bob – were understood to be bachelors and had worked together as gardeners before they retired because of ill health.
One neighbour said: “We think the McIlwain brothers have carried out a suicide pact.
“Bob and Jack McIlwain were lovely gentlemen. They lived together. I think they have always been together, they were very attached to each other. One of them had been disabled since youth. They just cared for each other.
“My husband was expecting to go in and witness their wills. The way that everyone spoke it sounded like they were realising the end was near.”
Officers launched a major response but said today they were not looking for anyone in connection with the deaths.
Neighbour Anna Parker said: “They were super neighbours and we are in a state of sorrow to lose them. Latterly, Jack, who was the one that was really disabled, had been housebound.
“They both had chronic illnesses, pulmonary fibrosis. Both were on oxygen. It was an industrial disease. I believe it was asbestos.
“They have been living here for eight years. They were very close, good neighbours.”
Police said they were alerted to a disturbance at a property in Lockerby Cottages in Gracemount at around 5pm yesterday, and on arrival they sealed off neighbouring streets.
A section of Lasswade Road close to Gracemount High School and not far Liberton Hospital was closed off to rush hour traffic, with workers unable to return to their homes.
Residents said they had seen armed officers entering the building, while the Police Scotland helicopter circled overhead, and two ambulances were also called to the scene.
A Police Scotland statement said: “Police in Edinburgh attended a property in Lockerby Cottages near Gracemount at around 5pm.
“On gaining entry, two elderly men were found seriously injured and were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Inquiries are continuing but police are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.”