These are desperately sad days for the owners and staff of the Orkney Media Group which publishes the weekly The Orcadian newspaper.
Robert Miller, 20, the son of James and Christine Miller, directors of the Orkney Media Group, was one of two students found dead in a bedroom at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Ayr a little over a week ago. The other lad, who died, also from Orkney, was Jim Robertson, the only child of two teachers on the island.
The tragic deaths were covered in a special two-page investigation by Paul Bracchi in yesterday’s Scottish Daily Mail which concluded that their deaths were not a shocking suicide pact, pointing out: “There was no suicide note, nor anything else to explain what had happened.
“’Suicide by Laptop Riddle of Two Brilliant Students Found Dead in Hotel Room’ is how one Sunday paper reported the tragedy. It was the way all the papers saw it – bar one.
“That paper was The Orcadian, whose headline read: ‘Indications Those Students’ Death was 'Tragic Accident'. Underneath was a statement from Robert Miller’s family.”
In the statement in their own newspaper, the Miller family said: “We are devastated at the news of Robert and Jim’s deaths and are trying to come to terms with the loss of two wonderful lads of immense charm and ability.
“We were initially told they had probably taken their own lives and we found this totally unbelievable. They had everything to live for, they were happy and had made plans for the future. Robert had just secured a summer placement with Citibank in London and had arranged accommodation. He could not wait to get down there later this month.
“The police have been excellent and their investigation is ongoing, but there are a number of indications that this was a tragic accident and not a 'suicide pact', as reported in some national newspapers.
“The police have told us that they have found no evidence of the boys broadcasting their deaths on the internet.”
According to the Mail, the two men were found slumped in chairs facing each other with a laptop placed on a table between them. The childhood friends had syringes taped to their arms. The syringes were hooked up to a pump containing chemicals.
The Mail reported: “The device, say police, was similar to that used in hospitals to administer pain-killing relief. Instead of an electrical medical monitor, the laptop had been adapted to administer what turned out to be a lethal overdose. The process started, we have been told, by simply pressing a button on the keyboard.”
Robert Miller’s funeral is taking place tomorrow at a local community centre. Jim Robertson’s has yet to be arranged.