EuroMillions lottery winner Margaret Loughrey died alone in her bungalow after refusing to seek medical help for a serious illness over the last two weeks, her brother revealed today.
Paul Loughrey said he was awaiting to hear the cause of death of his kind-hearted sister, who won nearly £27million in November 2013, but he insisted that she had not taken her own life.
He told how her life had been blighted by mental illness, leaving her potentially vulnerable to people taking advantage of her.
Paul also disclosed that she had largely cut herself off from her family for the last six years after giving £1million each to her four brothers and her sister.
Margaret Loughrey (pictured), 56, scooped the EuroMillions top prize eight years ago but famously said it had ‘destroyed her’
She recently had a Grand Designs-style dream home worth around £1million, built next door to her bungalow, complete with a glass-fronted showroom for her collection of classic cars.
But after moving into the house — built in the style of a Victorian warehouse with a curved metal roof — she decided it was too big for her and returned to her bungalow next door.
She spent her last days locked away with her two beloved black Scottish Terrier dogs before she was found dead on Thursday at her modest, but immaculately maintained home in Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Paul revealed that his sister had struggled to cope with her massive win and had ‘never managed to find happiness’.
Margaret Loughrey had given relatives £1million each and just completed building her dream home (pictured) when she was found dead
Photographs show the brand-new conversion overlooking surrounding bungalows, including the one Ms Loughrey lived in (pictured), on the border town
He said: ‘The lottery win done none of us any good, let me tell you. The day that she won it, I said, “Life is never going to be the same, this is going to destroy some of us here”.
‘It was too much for Margaret to deal with. It was a lot of money. I couldn’t have dealt with it. Personally I wouldn’t have wanted it.
‘We don’t know what the cause of death is yet, but she didn’t take her own life. We definitely know that.
‘She was very sick for a couple of weeks, but she refused to go to the doctor and refused to go to the hospital. She was very frail.
When she won the lottery she had been at the Job Centre living on benefits of just £58-a-week and got ticket on a whim
‘Margaret was always like a knitting needle. Even when she was a wain (a child), she was always light framed.
‘She didn’t leave home much because she wasn’t well. It’s just so sad.’
Paul disclosed that his sister had drawn up detailed plans with her solicitor for her own funeral which would not involve any form of religious service.
He said that she had made a ‘beautiful’ last wish to be cremated and have her ashes turned into a ‘pebble’ to be scattered on idyllic Marble Hill beach in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland where she spent happy childhood holidays.
Speaking from his home in Strabane, Paul added: ‘Everything is with her solicitor, even the arrangements for her funeral. The family is not organising anything.
‘I don’t think there is even going to be a proper funeral. She didn’t want one. She just wanted to be cremated with no fuss.
‘Her family will be there, but that’s it. She wasn’t religious at all, so there will be no religious service.
‘I think it is beautiful what she is doing. She is going to be cremated on Monday or Tuesday and she wants her ashes turned into a pebble, like a stone.
‘This pebble is to be left on Marble Hill beach because Margaret was always so happy when she was there with our Dad.
After the windfall, Ms Loughrey was dubbed ‘Maggie Millions’ and bought a property empire including a £125,000 bungalow (pictured), a pub and a former mill turned leisure centre
‘When we were children, my mother and father took us there a lot. I think it was when Margaret was always at her happiest.’
Relatives and friends of Ms Loughlan are having to find a new home for her Scottish terriers which are still at her home.
A family member was seen arriving care for the dogs this morning as they ran around the back garden.
Paul said: ‘Her dogs are beautiful. They were crying away yesterday. I think they can sense that something has happened. They need to be taken away.’
Lottery win was celebrated by locals
Shop assistant, Nadine O’Kane, handed Ms Loughrey the slip with the numbers 19, 23, 27, 42 and 44 with Lucky Stars 3 and 5.
Miss O’Kane told the Irish Daily Mailin 2013: ‘Its nice to see it happen to her. I didn’t know her.
‘I only found out on Sunday after I was told to come into work to get my picture taken.’
Local SuperValu store manager Colm Gallagher also said at the time: ‘I don’t know what Margaret’s going to do with the money but I wish her all the best with it.’
He told how his sister had built her dream home on a vacant plot containing outbuildings next to her bungalow.
The house behind a high wall and imposing gates stood empty today, with her modern black Jaguar parked in the drive.
Her glass fronted garage still contained several classic vehicles including a VW Beetle, a yellow Mini, a VW camper van and Land Rover, and a white-painted vintage motorcycle.
Paul said: ‘She moved in for a wee while, but left and went back to the bungalow again. It was just too big for her I think. She was on her own so moving to the big house was not a good idea.
‘It’s a bit sad. Nobody knows what she was going to do with the big house, but she did keep a few classic cars there. God knows what will happen to all that now. To be honest, I don’t really care what happens to it.’
Ms Loughrey was unemployed and living on benefits when she bought her winning EuroMillions ticket in November 2013 on her way home from getting an application form for a job with a charity
She scooped her jackpot of £26,863,588 after she correctly marked five numbers and two lucky stars.
Ms Loughrey vowed to continue living in her hometown of Strabane, and insisted that her money was ‘going to be spread around’ to help others.
She was true to her word and bought her bungalow worth around £125,000, and gifted money to her family and local good causes.
Ms Loughrey also ended up buying the derelict Herdmans former linen mill near her home, and had high hopes of renovating the site, but her plans never materialised.
She was briefly sectioned four months after her win, but she insisted in an interview with a local newspaper that she was not mentally ill.
Ms Loughrey spent a reported three weeks in a mental health unit before being allowed home after engaging solicitors to appeal against the decision to detain her.
She claimed in an interview in 2019 that people had ‘stolen millions’ from her, and that her lottery win had ‘sent her to hell and back’.
She added: ‘Money has brought me nothing but grief. It has destroyed my life.
‘I have had six years of this. I don’t believe in religion, but if there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad. I went down to five-and-a-half stone.’
Speaking of his love for his sister, Paul added: ‘We all tried to help Margaret over the years, but she just didn’t want to know, that’s the bottom line
‘She had a mental illness. She was sectioned for a time and they should have kept her inside.
‘They wanted to keep her in for six months which would have really helped her, but Margaret got a solicitor on her case to be allowed out, and the next day she was out.
The lottery winner had stayed living in her £125,000 bungalow, despite her fortune
Paul Gallagher, a neighbour and local councillor, told the Belfast Telegraph Ms Loughrey had just transformed a derelict house nicknamed ‘the barn’ into her dream home with a ’round tin roof’ (pictured left next door to her bungalow)
‘I felt it was a disgrace. It was just because she had money.
‘She has had a sad life. I don’t think she ever really got over her father’s death when she was only 15 or 16. She should have been counselled. If it happened today, she would have been.
‘Margaret hasn’t spoken to me in six years. She gave us all a few pounds and she made sure we were comfortable for the rest of our days, but she cut all ties with us.
‘Before she won, I would visit her every morning, but once she won, she didn’t want to see any of us. It was her mental health that was the problem. I didn’t take it personally. It was an illness she had.’
Asked about claims that she had money stolen, Paul said: ‘I heard that, but I don’t know anything about it. There is a lot of rumours.
Ms Loughrey landed the huge win after matching five numbers and two lucky stars but had years of troubles. Pictured outside court after being convicted of assaulting a taxi driver
‘I did hear that some people wrote a cheque and cashed it, and Margaret didn’t OK it. She didn’t know about it, and they took the money.
‘Margaret never told me personally about it, so it might have been a rumour and not true.
‘It’s just sad. It should have made everybody happy, having no money worries, but it made Margaret worse to be honest.
‘People would try and take advantage of her, but Margaret was very intelligent, You would get nothing by her. She was nobody’s fool.
‘She was very generous. I heard that she paid for things like somebody’s wedding and even somebody’s funeral because she knew the family did not have much.
‘I think she also helped a few wains that were sick. She was generous. She wasn’t a miser. I know that she helped charities as well, but I don’t know which ones.
‘She tried to help people and also to create jobs. She wanted to do good with her money.’
Paul said he had faced the ordeal of having to tell his 83-year-old mother of Ms Loughrey’s death.
He said: ‘My mum has got dementia and is in a care home and it was tough telling her there. Then I had to tell her again after she forgot, so she is reliving it. She brought up us up on her own after Dad died.’
A Police Service Northern Ireland spokesman said: ‘Police received a report of the sudden death of a woman at the Ballycolman Lane area of Strabane on Thursday September 2.
‘A post-mortem is due to take place but at this stage, the death is not being treated as suspicious.’
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service confirmed they also attended the house on Thursday morning.
A NIAS spokesman said: ‘We were called to an emergency in the Ballycolman area of Strabane at 10.30am this morning. No patients were taken from the scene.’
From blowouts to benefits: Three British teenagers who won millions of pounds on the lottery then blew it
Callie Rogers is pictured after her £1.87million lottery win in 2013
Callie Rogers was just 16 when she won a £1.87million lottery jackpot while working as a shop assistant on £3.60 an hour in 2003.
But the mother-of-four from Flimby in Cumbria has suffered a spectacular fall from grace since and is now on benefits after blowing the whole amount.
Miss Rogers spent thousands on wild parties, three breast enhancements and designer clothing, while also giving away large amounts to her family and friends.
But she was also targeted by people who took cash off her, suffered a string of failed relationships and was attacked by two women on a night out.
Then in March it emerged Miss Rogers had been pepper-sprayed by police following a car crash when her 4×4 veered off the road late at night.
She then failed a drugs test and was given a 22-month driving ban following the incident near her boyfriend Jason Fearon’s home in Crosby, Merseyside.
Callie Rogers, pictured in recent years, has suffered a fall from grace since her win and is now on benefits after blowing her winnings
Jane Park was 17 when she won big on the Euromillions in 2013
Jane Park was just 17 when she won £1million after getting lucky with her first-ever Euromillions ticket in 2013.
She has repeatedly stated winning the Euromillions prize ruined her life and even threatened to sue lottery operators Camelot for negligence, claiming someone her age shouldn’t have been allowed to win.
She has confessed that it was only the advice of family members which stopped her going bust after she went on a spending spree.
The jackpot winner paid for a breast enlargement, Brazilian bottom lift and splashed out on a string of luxury holidays and fashion accessories.
In 2019, she revealed she was making money by selling racy topless pictures of herself on subscription site OnlyFans.
In January she said she had moved to Dubai for ‘business’ reasons and this would be a permanent move, but she returned to Scotland in April.
Also this year, she has had a second Brazilian bottom lift in Turkey after her original surgery in 2017 was botched and left her in hospital with suspected sepsis.
Jane Park pictured in more recent years. In 2019, she revealed she was making money by selling racy topless pictures on OnlyFans
Michael Carroll scooped the jackpot in 2002 from a £1 ticket
‘Lotto lout’ Michael Carroll blew his £9.7million jackpot on drink, drugs and brothels in a decade – describing it as ‘the best ten years of my life for a pound’.
But he now works seven days a week as a £10-an-hour coalman in Moray, Scotland, after having to start again.
Mr Carroll bought the £1 ticket when he was aged 19 and was working as a binman in Norfolk, but before long he was doing cocaine and drinking huge amounts of vodka before he had even got out of bed.
He gave £4million to friends and family, including his aunt and uncle who raised him following his father’s death when he was aged only 10, but spent the rest on an extreme lifestyle, including three homes and racing cars.
His marriage to wife Sandra Aitken ended after she accused him of sleeping with vice girls – and Mr Carroll has claimed to have bedded some 4,000 women.
He appeared in court more than 30 times, but was handed an ASBO for terrorising his neighbours and jailed for five months in 2004 after failing to comply with a drug treatment order imposed as part of a sentence for cocaine possession.
His accountant warned him in 2005 that he was down to his last million, and in February 2006 he was jailed for nine months for affray.
By 2013, he was declared bankrupt and found himself back on Jobseeker’s Allowance – and he even moved into a hotel for homeless people for three months.
He then worked at the Walkers biscuit factory in Aberlour, before getting a licence to work in an abattoir, but now works as a coal miner and lives in a modest rented flat.
Speaking to the Mirror in 2019, he said: ‘I don’t look back with any regrets, that’s for sure. It was ten years of fun for a pound, you can’t go wrong with that.
‘I wouldn’t want to turn the clock back. But I live a good, free lifestyle now and I’m happier because I’ve got my life back.’
Carroll previously described how he was a ‘full-blown alcoholic’ and drank two bottles of vodka a day