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Inquest into mother’s death suspended after husband’s murder conviction

PUBLISHED: 12:21 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:15 29 September 2020

Cornelius van der Ploeg was convicted of murdering his estranged wife, Cherith, in Costessey. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

Cornelius van der Ploeg was convicted of murdering his estranged wife, Cherith, in Costessey. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

The inquest into the death of a terminally-ill woman has been permanently suspended following her husband’s conviction for murder.

Police at Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cherith van der Ploeg’s body was discovered on February 15 after police were called to an address at Highfields in Costessey, near Norwich.

Her estranged husband, Cornelius van der Ploeg, was arrested and later charged with murder.

He admitted suffocating his wife and was last month sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of five years and 187 days.

At a pre-inquest review into Mrs van der Ploeg’s death on Tuesday, September 29, area coroner for Norfolk, Yvonne Blake, halted proceedings in accordance with the family’s wishes.

Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHighfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

She added: “There have been criminal proceedings against the defendant. Those matters have now been concluded.

“The family has been consulted and it has been decided not to resume the inquest. The case will be permanently suspended under Schedule 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.”

Following his arrest, Mr van der Ploeg told officers that the killing was an “act of mercy” as Mrs van der Ploeg had been suffering with a terminal illness.

The couple, who moved to the UK in 2011, were married for 39 years and had four children.

Police talking to residents at Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice talking to residents at Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

By the time of Mrs van der Ploeg’s death they had separated, although Mr van der Ploeg continued to visit and support his wife after she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019.

During August’s sentencing, the court heard the victim had returned home at the beginning of 2020 for “end of life care”, having undergone both radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said on February 15 the defendant had asked two of his children, who were at the property in Costessey to care for their mother, for 30 minutes “to be alone with Cherith”.

He was then seen by his son with “his head on her pillow”. The victim was later found to be pale and not breathing.

Police at Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at Highfields in Costessey, where the body of Cherith van der Ploeg was found. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr van der Ploeg told police he “hated to see his wife suffer so much”, adding “she was in so much pain”.

He went on to say he and his wife had previously talked about death and she had said to him “don’t let me suffer”.


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