Died 16th August 2013

Julie Connaughton (57) was beaten to death on 16th August 2013 at her home at Walton Drive, Boythorpe, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Post mortem reports indicate she was hit at least 22 times and had cuts and fractures to her head, hands and arms. She was attacked with a knife and a hammer.

The body of Ms Connaughton’s husband, David Connaughton (60) was found nearby with self-inflicted stab wounds.

Derbyshire Constabulary revealed during an inquest at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court in April 2014 that Ms Connaughton, a businesswoman, was found with head wounds and a blood-spattered pillow over her head. According to police, Connaughton also covered Ms Connaughton’s head with bags from her business, Julie’s Fashion House.

Connaughton attacked Ms Connaughton after discovering she was planning to divorce him. She had spoken to solicitors in July 2013 about getting a divorce.

Detective Constable Owen said: “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 used by Connaughton, which revealed searches in the weeks leading up to the attack for websites about murder, divorce and homelessness – including: “When someone p***** you off, is it worth killing them?”

DC 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.”

Police officers discovered the couple, who had been married for nine years on a bed at their home in Chesterfield,

Detective Sergeant Lesley Turner, of Derbyshire Constabulary, confirmed during the hearing that Ms Connaughton’s 9 year marriage had broken down and she had recently filed for divorce.

Ms Connaughton’s daughters Emily and Nicola Corless, whose father was a previous partner of Ms Connaughton, said after the hearing: “Mum was a kind, caring, loving and bubbly person who lived for life. We miss her more every day. We thought she would always be around, she didn’t deserve any of this.”

She was described as a “popular” woman who enjoyed playing darts and dominoes.

The coroner concluded Ms Connaughton’s death was as a result of unlawful killing and that her husband committed suicide. The inquest heard that Ms Connaughton appeared to have defensive wounds. 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.”

Emily Corless lived with her mother and stepfather and a stepbrother, Richard Connaughton.

Emily Corless texted and phoned her mother on the day of her mother’s death, but when she received no replies she returned to the family home. The door to her mother’s bedroom was barricaded and she could not open it.

DS 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.”

Assistant coroner Paul McCandless told the hearing that Ms Connaughton had died from head injuries and her husband from stab wounds. He concluded Ms Connaughton’s death was as a result of an unlawful killing and her husband’s death was as a result of suicide

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 that Connaughton had barricaded them both in the bedroom and probably attacked her while she was either asleep or about to sleep.

DS Turner said the police had heard of no history of arguments, threats or violence. She said: “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.”

Reports indicate Connaughton had worked as a carer. He had 28 stab wounds and was found with a knife. Regarding his suicide, 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.”

Those with information which may help police should call Derbyshire Constabulary on 101.

Note: This report was drawn from reports in the Daily Mail and Derbyshire Times

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