THE parents of a Wigan dad found shot dead at his home believe his death was “a tragic accident”.
Mark Whittle died unaware that his father, whom he had been nursing, had been given the all-clear from cancer only the day before.
The 49-year-old’s body was discovered at his home in Back Lane, Appley Bridge, on Saturday morning by his dad, Arthur.
Although police cannot confirm what happened, a shotgun was found by Mark’s side and they say that his death is not being treated as suspicious. In an exclusive interview with the Wigan Evening Post today, his parents say they do not believe he deliberately took his own life. Margaret Whittle, 70, said: “No one knows why or how he did it.
“We would like to think it was a tragic accident. A friend thought he had bought the gun as a collectors’ piece, thinking it was a replica.
“Mark lived alone and there was no one in the house at the time of his death.
“The door was locked and Arthur had to get in using a key. We are just devastated. We only have one child and how can you come to terms with burying your own child?
“He will be sadly missed – he had many friends and he loved to be with people.
“He was very bubbly and had an outgoing personality.”
Mark, who has an 18-year-old son, was a qualified chef and had worked in a variety of places, such as Wrightington Country Club and the prestigious Station Hotel in Aberdeen.
But he stopped working full time to take care of his parents, who suffer ill health and live nearby on Glen Drive.
His 72-year-old dad was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder two years ago and was given the all-clear on Friday - a day before Mark’s death.
Margaret said: “Mark was on and off with work, but still did catering for family and friends.
“He was a carer for us both, as I have severe arthritis and Arthur had cancer.
“He got the all-clear from that and this happened.”
Mark, a former Shevington High School pupil, who also attended a catering course at Wigan College of Technology, was a keen collector of memorabilia from his youth.
Margaret, who was a former agony aunt for Radio Merseyside and wrote horoscopes for newspapers, including the Wigan Observer and Leader, said: “Mark was a great collector of punk records.
“He was a bit of a hoarder and had lots of things from his youth – he kept a museum of things.
“He had lived in Back Lane for around 20 years and loved coming to our family home, which is just around the corner.”
The funeral is yet to be arranged.