Convicted Norfolk killer found dead

A Norfolk man jailed for murdering members of his family has been found dead in his car after escaping from an open prison, police confirmed today.Martyn Hughes was given three life sentences at Norwich Crown Court in 1996 for strangling his wife, Deborah, with a tie before murdering stepsons James Brackhahn, seven, and six-year-old Matthew Brackhahn while they slept at the family home in Hemsby.

A Norfolk man jailed for murdering members of his family has been found dead in his car after escaping from an open prison, police confirmed today.

Martyn Hughes was given three life sentences at Norwich Crown Court in 1996 for strangling his wife, Deborah, with a tie before murdering stepsons James Brackhahn, seven, and six-year-old Matthew Brackhahn while they slept at the family home in Hemsby.

A manhunt was launched for the 50-year-old former undertaker when he failed to return to Sudbury Open Prison, near Derby, on Sunday.

Derbyshire Police said Hughes was found dead in his car on a secluded farm track near Belper, Derbyshire.


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At the time of the case, Hughes, then 38, had denied murdering the boys on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was found not guilty of Deborah's murder but guilty of manslaughter.

He claimed to have a severe depressive illness which would have substantially impaired his responsibility for his actions.

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Deborah's father, Desmond Sadler, said he feared Hughes could have come looking for him and his wife after his release from prison - scheduled for July next year.

The killer's apparent suicide left the retired couple “relieved” but not happy, he said today.

Speaking from his home in Caister-on-Sea, the retired helicopter pilot said he was still angry at Hughes's 13-year minimum jail term for the deaths of three innocent people.

“It's quite mixed feelings in a way,” said Mr Sadler, 67. “I'm not prepared to stand up and say that I am pleased about it but relief might be more acceptable.”

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