Cromer council leader Keith Johnson was a 'monster': Full statements from family of woman he killed
PUBLISHED: 14:06 24 September 2013 | UPDATED: 15:01 24 September 2013
A respected council leader was a "monster" who hid behind his "precious chain of office" to sexually, physically and mentally abuse his wife - before shooting her dead when she tried to leave him.
That was the verdict of the family of Andrea Johnson at the end of the inquest today into her death and that of her husband Keith on December 2 last year.
The hearing at Thorpe Road in Norwich heard how Mr Johnson, 58, shot his wife with her shotgun at close range on a neighbour’s driveway at Compits Hills near Cromer, before walking into the back garden of their home to shoot himself.
Mr Johnson was the leader of North Norfolk District Council and formerly Cromer’s mayor for seven years. He was also a long-serving Norfolk FA committee member.
Norfolk coroner William Armstrong, who recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for Mrs Johnson and suicide for Mr Johnson, said it was a “desperate double tragedy”, and added: “No-one other than Keith is directly to blame for this.”
After the hearing, Mrs Johnson’s parent John and Janice Chadwick from near Stalham, and her sister and brother-in-law Sharon and Kevin Thorpe stood beside victim support officer Rick Munns as he read statements from them and on behalf of Mrs Johnson’s brother, Brian Chadwick, who lives in America.
In December, they had all stood alongside Mr Johnson’s family at a joint funeral for the couple at Cromer Parish Church, having vowed to forgive Mr Johnson his “moment of madness”.
But evidence in a domestic violence homicide report, which lifted the lid on a string of attacks by Mr Johnson on his wife, altered their view of the double death.
Mr and Mrs Chadwick’s statement said: “We, the family of Andrea, are devastated by her tragic death. She was such a beautiful, loving, bubbly character, dearly loved and sadly missed.
“As a family we would like to say thank you to our family liaison / victim support team / local church and community for all their tremendous support and help in the last nine months.
“Also, we would like to say thank you to Gaynor Mears from the Domestic Homicide Review for her in-depth report into the abuse, physical and sexual, that Andrea suffered at the hands of her husband Keith.
“With this report being published we hope others will stand to gain from it and the public will see Keith’s Jekyll and Hyde character which led to Andrea’s murder.
“We feel for Keith’s family, as they are victims too. Finally we want to thank the Coroner, Mr Armstrong, for his handling of the case. Please now respect our family wishes to be left alone to grieve for the loss of Andrea.”
Brian Chadwick’s statement said: “Andrea was beautiful, intelligent, fun loving and adventurous. Her bubbly personality lit up rooms and warmed hearts. She was my big sister, and I was her “Little Buddy”. She will be remembered to my children and forever missed by all of us.
“I am deeply saddened that Andrea suffered in silence through more than a decade of abuse at the hands of that monster, Keith Johnson — a man who we trusted and let into our lives.
“He was controlling, as well as physically, verbally and sexually abusive and when my sister tried to leave him, he killed her for it. People now know the real man behind his precious chain of office. This is not a man who deserved your respect.
“I’m devastated that I failed to recognise and act upon the signs of abuse and as such, I failed my sister. We British feel that what happens behind closed doors is between a husband and wife and not our place to intervene.
“We just look the other way. As long as this attitude persists, more women will become victims of domestic violence, just like my sister.”
Mr and Mrs Thorpe and their children Zoe, Lauren and Jack’s statement said: “Andrea, our darling big sister/Aunty Andy, how missed you are.
“You were subjected to over a decade of long term systematic physical/mental and sexual abuse. We wish we had known that you were suffering so we could have helped you.
“You were such a happy, bubbly, beautiful, but sadly vulnerable woman who was let down by bad medical practise and some so-called friends, people who should have known better.
“We need to acknowledge that just because you hold a position of power in public doesn’t mean you are trustworthy and a genuinely nice person. Keith Johnson, the face of Cromer, was nothing more than a monster. The domestic violence report from the Home Office says it all.
“Andrea you will live on in peace in our hearts and memories forever. Please can you respect us and leave us to grieve our treasured big sister/Aunt.”