Wife bludgeoned in double death tragedy

A jilted husband who researched killing on the internet went on to bludgeon his wife with a hammer before stabbing himself to death.

Thursday, 10th April 2014, 11:38 am
Pictured is deceased Julie Connaughton, of Walton Drive, Boythorpe, Chesterfield, who was found dead at her home with her deceased husband David Connaughton.

Chesterfield coroner’s court heard on Thursday, April 3, how David Connaughton, 60, killed Julie Connaughton, 57, in their bedroom and then stabbed himself 28 times after he had discovered she was planning a divorce.

Officers discovered the blood-splattered couple on their bed at their home on Walton Drive, Boythorpe, Chesterfield, after Mrs Connaughton’s daughter Emily Corless had not been able to get into the barricaded room.

Det Con Tony Owen, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: “We got a call from Emily Corless saying she was trying to get in touch and couldn’t open the bedroom door and was concerned something had happened.

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“Officers forced the door which was blocked by a large piece of furniture and found two deceased people in the room.”

Retired shop owner Mrs Connaughton was found, according to the inquest, with three plastic bags over her head near a blood splattered wall and a blood-stained hammer.

A post mortem report stated she had suffered at least 22 blows to her head with multiple lacerations around her scalp, fractures to her skull and hands and bruising to arms, hands and fingers.

Carer David Connaughton had 28 stab wounds to his abdomen with bruises to his palms, a thigh and wounds to his wrists and was found with a knife between his legs.

The report found he had died hours after Mrs Connaughton and her injuries preceded his and were consistent with defence wounds.

Det Con Owen added: “We knew Julie and David were having marital problems and were almost leading separate lives. We were aware she had started a new relationship and from speaking to family David had anxiety and was concerned he was losing Julie and would be made homeless.”

Police checked a computer tower used by Mr Connaughton which revealed searches for websites about divorce and homelessness and two search questions about killing including “When someone p****s you off, is it worth killing them?”.

Det Con Owen added: “For some reason he chose that night to go into the bedroom with the knife and the hammer and barricaded the door and attacked Julie before killing himself.”

Det Con Owen believes Mr Connaughton covered Julie’s head with the bags from her business Julie’s Fashion House so he did not have to face her while he was dying.

Assistant Derbyshire coroner Paul McCandless confirmed Mrs Connaughton had died from head injuries and Mr Connaughton had died later from stab wounds after their bodies were found on August 16, last year.

He added: “The injuries sustained by Mrs Connaughton are so serious and so repeated and so extreme - with clear evidence of her defending herself - it all points to someone having set about her while their intention can only have been to kill her.”

He explained Mr Connaughton most likely caused his injuries to himself after barricading them both in the bedroom and setting about her while she was either asleep or about to sleep.

Mr McCandless said: “Due to the degree and overwhelming number of injuries there can be no issue about Mr Connaughton’s intent to bring about his death as an extreme and deadly reaction to the crossroads they had reached in their relationship.”

The coroner concluded Mrs Connaughton’s death was as a result of an unlawful killing and stated that it was effectively murder.

He also concluded Mr Connaughton’s death was as a result of suicide.

The heartbroken daughters of tragic Julie Connaughton - Emily Corless, 29, and Nicola Corless, 34 - handed a written tribute to the Derbyshire Times.

It stated: “Mum was a kind, caring, loving, fun, bubbly person who lived her life to the best she could.

“We miss her more everyday. People say in time we will get over it. We honestly don’t think we will. Maybe and hopefully we will learn to live with it. You never know what’s round the corner.

“Just always thought mum would be around. She didn’t deserve any of this.

“Hope she’s proud of us and how we’ve continued to try and carry on without her. Not going to lie, it’s not been easy in any way.

“Just like to thank all my family and friends for their support and help.”

A shocked public gallery listened in horror to details of the 50 deadly wounds inflicted by David Connaughton on his wife and himself.

Around 18 people including relatives, police and the Derbyshire Times attended the inquest.

Assistant Derbyshire Coroner Mr McCandless praised the police investigation and the co-operation of relatives which led to the inquest conclusions.

The court had previously heard how both had grown-up children from previous relationships including Mrs Connaughton’s daughters Emily and Nicola and Mr Connaughton’s son Richard.

Det Con Tony Owen said Mrs Connaughton had spoken to solicitors in June, 2013, and visited them in July, 2013, about getting a divorce and enquiries revealed the couple had begun discussing the breakdown of their marriage.

The couple, who had been married for about nine years according to a previous hearing, had lived with Emily and Richard and had two dogs, three cats and a parrot. Police described Mrs Connaughton as popular.

She enjoyed playing darts and dominoes for The Peacock Inn, on Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield.

Mrs Connaughton had previously lived in Matlock for most of her life and had been secretary of the Peaks and Dales Darts and Dominoes League for 14 years.