– Faulty generator blamed for fatal poisoning of wealthy banker and his wife in remote Estonian forest (Daily Mail, Mar 28, 2012):
A wealthy British banker and his wife died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a ‘tragic accident’ at their holiday home in Estonia, an inquest has heard.
Philip Townsend, 55, worked for a mysterious Moscow investment company, where he was an analyst in the lucrative but murky Russian telecoms industry.
But he and his wife MaryAnne, 52, were found dead at the converted barn near the town of Valga on February 24.
They are believed to have been killed by fumes from a faulty generator.
Police at the time said they couldn’t work out if the deaths were suspicious or not.
Four years ago another wealthy British-based tycoon involved in the Russian telecoms industry vanished from his opulent holiday villa in Latvia.
Leonid Rozhetskin, 41, is presumed to have been targeted by an assassin.
Mr and Mrs Townsend lived with their two children at a secluded 16th century manor house in Wood Dalling near Reepham, Norfolk.
Mr Townsend who used the title Baron Townsend of Rathmore worked in Moscow as a telecoms industry analyst and had been a research director for investment company Enza Capital since 2010.
An inquest which was opened and adjourned in Norwich heard that their bodies were found at 10am on February 24 in a utility room that housed two generators.
A post mortem examination carried out in Estonia gave the causes of death as asphyxia due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: “All the indications are that these deaths were the result of a tragic accident.”
He said the deaths were not being treated as suspicious by the Estonian authorities and there was no evidence of suicide.
Mr Armstrong allowed the bodies to be released for burial. The inquests were adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Mr Townsend who also owned a flat in Kensington is thought to have bought and renovated his home in Estonia last year.
The bodies are believed to have been found by a local workman when he arrived at the property.
Mrs Townsend’s brother James Wilson, 49, a farmer of Ingoldisthorpe near Sandringham, Norfolk, described the deaths last month as a ‘sad family tragedy’.
Mr Townsend bought Wood Dalling Hall in 1990 and was involved in several legal disputes with neighbours, relating to property, boundaries and water supplies.
He made headlines in 1996 when he issued a High Court writ against one neighbour to stop her going on his rear driveway to water her hanging baskets even though she had a right of access to use it to reach her property.