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Magdalen man 'complained of depression' before murdering wife and killing himself, inquest told

Court news (2569548)
Court news (2569548)

A man who shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself had complained of feeling depressed just hours before the shooting, a court has heard.

A coroner concluded Stephen Muncaster had intended to take his own life at a hearing in Norwich this morning, despite evidence that he had insisted he would not harm himself.

The court also heard he sent a text message to his son minutes before his death, telling him to "look after" his family.

Mr Muncaster, who was 47, was found dead in the drive of his home in Stow Road, Magdalen by a paramedic shortly after midnight on July 12, 2016. A shotgun was found nearby.

His wife, Allison, who was 48, was found dead inside the property. An inquest into her death, which took place last year, concluded she had been unlawfully killed.

Retired detective Jeremy Pitt, who worked on the investigation, said CCTV inside the house showed both Mr and Mrs Muncaster had appeared to be upset in the minutes prior to the shooting.

He said the footage then showed Mr Muncaster produce the gun from behind his back and fire towards Mrs Muncaster as she tried to run away. She was "immediately fatally wounded."

The court also heard that neighbours had reported being woken by shouting from the house.

One said she heard a man say: "I've just shot Ali."

A post-mortem examination on Mr Muncaster concluded he had died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift said there was no sign of intoxication or disease which might have contributed to his death.

But, in a statement read to the court, GP Dr Chris Holmes, of the Bridge Street surgery in Downham, said Mr Muncaster had attended his surgery at around 5.30pm on July 11, 2016, less than seven hours before the shooting, complaining of feeling depressed.

He said Mr Muncaster told him his marriage had broken down and he feared his wife was seeing someone else.

Dr Holmes told the court he prescribed medication that had been successfully used to treat Mr Muncaster for depression in 2003, around the time of the collapse of his first marriage, but did not refer him to mental health professionals.

He said he was "quite confident" Mr Muncaster did not intend to harm himself or anyone else and had arranged to see him again the following week to review his case.

But Mr Pitt said Mr Muncaster sent a text message to his son around 20 minutes before the shooting.

It read: "Look after yourself and my grandchildren and your sister and my mum. Love you always. Dad."

Mr Pitt added that Mr Muncaster had held a firearms certificate, which was renewed in 2012, and there had been no previous incidents at the house.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake offered condolences to members of Mr Muncaster's family who attended the hearing.

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