'Suicide pact' pair friends since school

TWO students found dead in a hotel room after an apparent suicide pact have been revealed as childhood friends from Orkney.

Robert Miller and James Robertson, both students at Edinburgh University and both in their early twenties, were found in the hotel in Ayr on Wednesday.

It is thought they used a laptop connected to a device to administer lethal doses of medication. They may also have broadcast their final moments on the internet, as a webcam was found beside their bodies.

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The pair are believed to have been found seated in chairs opposite each other by staff when they failed to check out of the Ramada Jarvis Hotel.

It is understood they have been close friends since they were children. Police are investigating whether any footage of their deaths was aired online.

The students were believed to have both been studying maths and physics. Edinburgh University refused to say whether it had launched an investigation into the two deaths yesterday, referring all inquiries to Strathclyde Police.

The force confirmed an investigation was ongoing, but said it did not appear there were any suspicious circumstances.

Tributes have been paid to the students, who are from separate communities on Orkney's Mainland. James' parents Barbara and William Robertson live in Stromness, while Robert's parents James and Christine Miller live in nearby Finstown. The Millers are directors of the company which owns The Orcadian and Orkney Today, Orkney's two local newspapers.

Many on the islands were too upset to speak. Stromness councillor Ian Johnstone said: "Everyone is just absolutely stunned. (The students] were very well known in the local community and I think most people here would have known them, or knows someone who knew them.

"One of the boys went to the same school as my son, so when we heard the news it hit our family very hard. They were good guys and they will be very badly missed."

One friend of the students, who asked not to be named, said: "I couldn't believe it when I heard and it's still not sunk in for anyone here. You read about these things but you never think it will happen to someone you know.

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"The tragedy is especially hard to believe because Jim and Robert were two of the cleverest people in school. I just don't understand it because they had so many friends."

The students were said to have chatted happily to staff at the hotel when they arrived on Tuesday. Thomas Graham, president of Edinburgh University Students' Association, said: "We don't know anything about the circumstances of what happened. It sounds very tragic.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the friends and families of these two students. I'm sure the university will be best placed to say more when things become a bit clearer."

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: "We were called to the Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Ayr at 12.40pm on Wednesday. Inquiries are continuing but there does not appear to be any suspicious circumstances. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal."

The inquiry is under way eight months after two teenage girls jumped from the Erskine Bridge, in Renfrewshire, in an apparent suicide pact after sneaking out of a care home.

Neve Lafferty, 15, and Georgia Rowe, 14, jumped more than 100ft from the Erskine Bridge, near Glasgow, into the River Clyde, last October.