Ex-spy’s wife killed herself with cyanide

14:18 22 January 2014

Fire service tape has been used to seal off this property at Dalditch. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6731-04-13SH

Fire service tape has been used to seal off this property at Dalditch. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6731-04-13SH

Archant

Inquest hears of intriguing secret life of Budleigh Salterton couple

Fire service tape has been used to seal off this property at Dalditch. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6728-04-13SHFire service tape has been used to seal off this property at Dalditch. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6728-04-13SH

A Budleigh Salterton pensioner drank deadly World War Two chemical cyanide to commit suicide, an inquest heard on Wednesday.

Widow Noreen Orange, 85, of Nuthayes, in Dalditch Lane, had been married to a wartime spy who served in intelligence and was said to work for the Russians during World War Two.

Childless Mrs Orange, a retired journalist, was found dead in her bed in February last year after drinking a deadly mix of potassium cyanide.

A handwritten note left next to the small bottle containing the brown liquid poison – often used by the Germans as a genocidal agent in World War Two – told of her intention to end her life.

It is thought the deadly chemical had been stored in the couple’s garage.

The brown bottle found on a bedside table next to the pensioner was clearly labelled potassium cyanide.

The inquest heard how Mrs Orange’s husband, John, who served in the army at Sandhurst and worked in intelligence, had been a spy in the war for the Russians.

An intensively private couple, John, who spoke fluent German, kept secret a gunshot wound he received in the war and ‘rarely’ spoke of his wartime background.

It was revealed he spent six months hiding in a loft space in Vienna during the conflict.

The court heard how ‘possessive’ Mr Orange would wait at the gate of their home, looking at his watch, if his wife went out alone.

Family and friends of Mrs Orange say she took her own life for fear of becoming a burden – or going into a home - once her health began to deteriorate.

The inquest heard how Mrs Orange, who was suffering from skin cancer, plus back problems, had hinted of her intention to commit suicide, telling friends she would not be around in the springtime.

In her suicide note – written days before she drank the lethal chemical - she apologised for taking her own life, saying she was suffering as a result of a long-term illness.

Mrs Orange’s body was discovered by her niece, Sarah Richards, and her husband.

Mrs Richards said her aunt’s health and mindset changed after the death of her husband, family, and dog.

She believed her aunt planned her suicide ‘in detail’, but would have shied away from cyanide had she known the after-effect of the chemical on anyone coming into contact with the deceased, or house – which was quarantined for several weeks.

Coroner Elizabeth Earland, who was unable to carry out a post mortem because of the deadly chemical, said she was satisfied Mrs Orange intended to take her own life after ingesting potassium cyanide. She recorded a verdict of suicide.

Speaking after the inquest, niece Sarah Richards said: “Noreen was somebody that was very intelligent in her own right. John was absolutely devoted to her.

“He was definitely a patriot. He would have been in the British Intelligence.

“I didn’t become aware he was involved in that level until I found some old military maps when we were clearing out the house. He was a very private person and he didn’t tell people what he got up to.”

She said the couple were married for more than 60 years, having met when they were working on a newspaper.

Mr Orange was an expert on clocks: auctioneers Sotherby’s and Christie’s used him as a consultant.

He dreamed of studying medicine, but his hopes were thwarted by the outbreak of war.

0 comments

Other News Stories

10:55
Pupils from Drake's Primary School on their visit to Parliament with East Devon MP Hugo Swire and their flag design.

Pupils from Drake’s Primary School have enjoyed a visit to Parliament to see their design as part of a national creative project.

Read more
09:00
Students for Plymouth Uni joined volunteers helping weeding and planting new blooms at the Topsham train station on Saturday. Ref ext 6713-21-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Volunteers from Topsham were joined by students from Plymouth University as they cleaned up the flowerbeds at the town’s railway station.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:53
Katy Gooding outside her shop in Budleigh. Ref exb 7383-22-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

A Budleigh shop owner is asking for public support after being nominated for a national award.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:00
Sue Stoneman's culinary talents will be available for all to see as she appears on television next week. Ref exe 7722-22-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

An Exmouth cook will be showing off her culinary skills on a BBC cooking show next week.

Read more
Thu, 15:35
Bassetts Farm primary school headteacher Sarah Bennett is pictured with some of her children celebrating their recenty Ofsted success. Ref exe 7302-21-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

An Exmouth primary school is celebrating after it received a ‘good’ rating in a recent Ofsted report.

Read more
Thu, 11:33
Rotakids at Marpool primary school presented NSPCC Schools Organiser Roisin Turley with £2001.79 which was raised by a school hula hoop event. The event was also used to help promote the awareness of the chairty which includes Childline. Ref exe 7311-21-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

A hula hoop event held by the Rotakids at Marpool School raised more than £2,000 for the NSPCC.

Read more
Thu, 09:51

Exmouth Community College is celebrating after being given £2.4million for new classrooms.

Read more
Thu, 09:46
Lizzie German from Budleigh will be attending the international UN climate talks in Paris in December as part of the UK youth delegation. Ref exb lizzie2 Picture: submitted

A Budleigh student is preparing to help make young people’s voices heard on the world stage, as leaders debate the planet’s response to climate change.

Read more
Thu, 09:44
The 2016 Exmouth in Bloom calendar was offically launched at the World of Country Life this week. Ref exe 7129-21-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

The 2016 calendar, sponsored by the leisure park, is one of Exmouth in Bloom’s biggest fundraisers and will pay for new flower displays around the town.

Read more
Wed, 18:30
Fashion show

Exmouth Players is hosting a fashion show in early June as a fundraiser to help refurbish the green room and kitchen at the Blackmore Theatre in Exmouth’s Bicton Street.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life
Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Competitions
Photo Orders
Family notices
iwitness24
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition today E-edition



Exmouth's trusted business finder