Inquest Reveals How Isle of Wight Couple Died

A woman apparently murdered by her husband who then committed suicide had suffered neck injuries, an inquest heard today.

Barry Harrison, 47, and his wife Amanda, 34, were found inside the property in Regal Court, High Street, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, at 6.27pm on Monday.

The inquest at Newport Coroner's Court heard that the couple's two sons, aged three and five, were found in the flat by a friend of the family.

Barry Harrison

Coroner's officer Richard Leedham said that a friend went round to the flat after a family member raised their concerns having not been able to contact them.

The elder son opened the door and told her that both parents were sleeping.

She then found Mr Harrison hanging from a rope in a bedroom with his wife dead on the floor in the same room.

Mr Leedham said that Mrs Harrison had suffered neck injuries.

He said: "Both were found in the early evening of Monday August 9, as a result of a family member having difficulty in having contact with them.  A friend of the family attended the address, the door was opened by the eldest son who indicated that both parents were asleep.  The friend saw what had occurred and took both children from the flat. Emergency services were called and police attended. Amanda Harrison was lying on the floor in the bedroom with apparent injuries to her neck. Barry Harrison was hanging by the neck from a rope from an open loft hatch in the same bedroom as his wife.''

The inquest heard that a post-mortem examination carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Russell Delaney gave a cause of death of hanging for Mr Harrison.

But the examination carried out on Mrs Harrison was inconclusive with further laboratory tests to be carried out to establish a "direct'' cause of death, the hearing was told.

Mr Leedham added that both bodies had been formally identified by a family friend.

Assistant deputy coroner for the Isle of Wight Hugh Calloway adjourned the inquest to a date to be set. Hampshire and Isle of Wight police have said that they are treating Mrs Harrison's death as "suspicious'' and Mr Harrison's as "non-suspicious''.

They are not seeking anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Family friend Pat Cannon, who works as a manager for the block of flats and was the woman who found the bodies, said the children were playing in the hallway when she found their father hanging from the loft.

After police were called, the woman's body was found, she said.

Ms Cannon told The Sun:

"I went round because I knew they were going through a rough patch with their marriage. I wanted to make sure they were all right. I knocked on their door and the elder boy opened it. Everything seemed normal. The boys were playing in the hallway. He said, 'Hello, Pat'. I said, 'Where are mummy and daddy?' They said, 'Mummy and daddy are asleep'. I could see the loft hatch open and some cord. I pushed the door to the room and it felt like a dead weight.''

According to former neighbours in Coventry, the couple had experienced financial difficulties after the closure in 2007 of Peugeot's Ryton plant where they both worked.

Pam Williams, 66, told the Daily Mirror:

"They lost their jobs when Peugeot finished and spent their redundancy on the house. She got a job at Sainsbury's and he found some work somewhere but it wasn't enough and they couldn't keep the mortgage up. A few weeks before they left he said they were going but didn't say why or where. He sort of hinted it was financial. He just said he didn't want to talk about it.''

In a statement released through police, Mrs Harrison's mother, sisters and brother said she was "devoted'' to her children.

It said:

"The family are deeply shocked and devastated at the death of Amanda. She was a loving, hard working and devoted mother to her children. We need time to come to terms with our loss and would request privacy at this time of great sadness.''

Mr Harrison's eldest son, Lee Harrison, 19, who lives in Coventry, described him as "one of the nicest men you could ever meet''.

He added: "My dad was a devoted family man. His family meant everything to him, and he meant everything to his family. His death is a massive and devastating loss to everyone that knew and loved him. Our main concern at this moment in time is the welfare of my brothers, and our thoughts go out to everyone affected at this difficult time. Furthermore the privacy of the family would be greatly appreciated.''

Police said the children were unharmed and were now being looked after by a friend of the family.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Ben Snuggs said:

"The focus of our inquiries is on building an accurate picture of Amanda and Barry's lives. This will help us to better understand what has led to these tragic events. The investigation team would like to thank family and friends for their co-operation at such a difficult and upsetting time in their personal lives. I also appreciate the support of people across the country and the local community who have contacted the police with information.''