CHESTERFIELD: Tragic couple’s horrific deaths

The corner house on Walton Drive, Chesterfield, where the dead bodies of David and Julie Connaughton were discovered.
The corner house on Walton Drive, Chesterfield, where the dead bodies of David and Julie Connaughton were discovered.

Police who discovered a gruesomely-wounded couple dead in their Chesterfield home believe the wife had been killed and the husband had stabbed himself to death.

Derbyshire Constabulary revealed during an inquest at Chesterfield coroner’s court this week that 57-year-old Julie Connaughton was found with head wounds and a blood-spattered pillow over her head and her 60-year-old husband David Connaughton was covered in blood and had self-inflicted stab wounds.

The court heard how Mrs Connaughton’s worried daughter Emily Corless and neighbours had struggled to get into the couple’s bedroom at Walton Drive, Boythorpe, Chesterfield, before police forced the door open and found the dead couple covered in wounds and blood on Friday afternoon, August 16. Police stated they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Derbyshire assistant coroner Nigel Anderson said: “The scenario which police are working with is that she was killed and her husband took his own life by inflicting stab wounds upon himself.”

Det Sgt Lesley Turner, of Derbyshire Constabulary, confirmed during the hearing that the couple had married in 2004 but Mrs Connaughton had recently filed for divorce.

But shocked family and friends said there was no history of arguments, threats or violence between them.

Mrs Connaughton’s daughter Emily, from a previous relationship, had texted and phoned her mother on Friday, according to the inquest, but when she received no replies she returned to the family home about 2pm and made the horrific discovery.

Det Sgt Turner said: “She discovered her mum’s and step-father’s bedroom door jammed and she got neighbours to help but none of them could open the door so they called the police. Two officers managed to get in and they found mum had significant head wounds. Mum was laid on the bed with her head covered with a pillow and there was blood around the pillow. They saw David Connaughton at the bottom of the bed and he was covered in blood.”

Mrs Connaughton was last seen alive about 9.45pm, on Thursday, August 15, after she visited a friend and both she and her husband were pronounced dead on August 16. The inquest heard how police enquiries revealed Mrs Connaughton appeared to have defensive wounds and that she is believed to have died first.

Det Sgt Turner added during the hearing: “Julie had a wide circle of friends that she was closely in contact with and there was no mention or suggestion of violence or threats towards her. This has come out of the blue.”

Mr Anderson adjourned the inquest for a date to be fixed.

Bereaved relatives, friends and residents have been left stunned by the deaths.

The inquest heard how the married couple both had grown-up children from previous relationships including Mrs Connaughton’s daughter Emily Corless and Mr Connaughton’s son Richard Connaughton.

But Mr and Mrs Connaughton’s nine year marriage had broken down and Mrs Connaughton had filed for divorce.

Neighbour Peter Revill, of Walton Drive, said: “We very rarely saw them and we didn’t socialise with them but when we saw them we would always say hello to each other. They seemed a nice enough couple and in some respects they were perfect neighbours because they were very quiet and you never heard a noise from them.”

The couple lived with Emily and Richard at the family home where they had two dogs, three cats and a parrot.

Mrs Connaughton was described by police as popular and residents told how she enjoyed playing darts and dominoes for the Peacock Inn, on Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield.

Staff at The Peacock said Julie will be sorely missed by all her friends and they passed on their condolences to her family.

Another neighbour said: “It’s very sad. It’s the sort of thing you read about happening elsewhere but not on your own doorstep.”

One shocked resident also said she had been reassured to learn police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Emily Corless and Richard Connaughton declined to speak to the Derbyshire Times. Those with information which may help police with their on-going investigation should call Derbyshire Constabulary on 101.