A PRODUCTION manager bludgeoned his wife to death with a lump hammer before hanging himself in the garage of their home.
An inquest heard that John Edward Carroll had made a failed attempt to kill them both just six weeks before he launched the frenzied attack on his devoted wife, Lynda, slashing her with a knife and inflicting horrific head wounds with the hammer.
The inquest was told Mr Carroll's demeanour had changed because of spiralling debts, which he had kept secret from his wife, and the perceived threat of redundancy which turned out to be totally unfounded.
After the first attempt to kill his wife and himself, Mr Carroll had been a voluntary patient at a private psychiatric hospital but 12 days after he was discharged he again attacked his wife.
Mrs Carroll's body was found in the attic of the couple's home in Pendle View, Burnley Road, Altham. Friends who let themselves into the house had found Mr Carroll hanging from a cord in the garage.
Coroner Michael Singleton said it was difficult to conceive of a more tragic event.
He said: "To lose both parents in this way is beyond any words that I could express which could get close to offering any consolation.''
The inquest heard that the first incident on 8 October had come out of the blue, shocking the couple's children, John and Mandy.
Mr Carroll, 54, production manager at Slingers Meat Processors, Great Harwood, had returned home early in the morning after a row at work. Mrs Carroll, who was still in bed when he returned, could see he was upset and suggested they went into the kitchen for a drink and to talk things through.
She later told a relative that she thought her husband was coming towards her for a cuddle but he suddenly produced a knife and said: "You're going and I'm following you."
She said they couldn't go because one of their grandchildren wasn't well and as he paused she ran out of the house to a neighbour's.
Mr Carroll was subsequently found with a severe cut to his left wrist and was taken to Preston Royal Infirmary where he received plastic surgery
The couple's son John, a Royal Marine who lives in Plymouth and was due to fly out to the Gulf this week, said before the incident he had no cause for concern about his parents. Daughter Mandy said her mother had been totally shocked by the incident.
She told the inquest: "There was no clue that things were going to come to such a dramatic head.
"My dad obviously needed psychiatric help and I arranged for him to go into The Priory.''
She said her mother simply wanted her dad to come home so they could carry on as normal.
She added: "She was pretending it hadn't happened, even after what happened at home and him trying to jump out of a window at Preston Royal.''
Family friend Adele Dickinson described the Carrolls as a "loving and devoted" couple. She told how Mr Carroll had spoken to her while he was in the Royal Preston Hospital and revealed that he had intended that he and his wife would die.
Mrs Dickinson said: "He talked of hearing voices in his head and said there was a big black cloud over him which was enveloping him."
Mrs Dickinson, who worked in the psychiatric unit at Queen's Park Hospital for 15 years, said she felt Mr Carroll had been discharged from hospital too soon.
She added: "He got discharged to Lynda who, because of what had happened, didn't know what day it was.
"The man she loved and who loved her had made an attempt on her life and she was in no fit state to make judgements."
Phillip Ellis, a director of Slingers, said there was no question of Mr Carroll, who had been with the firm for 39 years, being made redundant.
He said that after the incident on 8 October he had helped Mrs Carroll sort out the financial affairs and they had uncovered a series of short-term loans totalling £116,000 including the mortgage. He said that servicing them was costing £2,035 a month.
Dr Shasbank Chatree said there had been a steady improvement in Mr Carroll's condition following his admission to The Priory near Preston, where he was a voluntary patient.
He said that at the time of his admission Mr Carroll's condition was such that he could have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Dr Chatree said Mr Carroll was not sectionable when he was discharged when he was referred to the community mental health service.
Dr Chatree said: "He was no longer considered to be a risk to his wife or to himself.
"I am extremely surprised at the descriptions given by members of the family about the level of agitation shown by Mr Carroll after he was discharged. I am surprised no representations were made to me, the lines of communication were not that difficult."
Reg Kielty, manager of the Hyndburn Community Medical Health Team, said that when he had a meeting with Mr and Mrs Carroll on 21 November, three days before the double death, he had seen no evidence of any "relapse triggers".
Mr Kielty said: "I wish he had said something to give me an indication that there was still a problem but he didn't. There was nothing to set alarm bells ringing."
The medical cause of death for Mr Carroll was given as hanging, and blunt force head injuries were given as the cause of Mrs Carroll's death.
Mr Singleton recorded verdicts that Mr Carroll had killed himself and Mrs Carroll had been unlawfully killed.