Disbelief at North Norfolk District Council as police confirm names of Cromer shooting couple
Police have said this morning that the two bodies found at Cromer are believed to be Andrea and Keith Johnson.
Mrs Johnson, 44, was discovered in the front garden of a property while the body of Mr Johnson, 58, was found in a back garden close by.
Post mortems on the couple are taking place this morning and formal identification will follow. Police confirm that both are thought to have died from gunshot wounds.
North Norfolk District Council members and staff were waiting for official confirmation of the couple's identity before releasing a formal statement today but dozens gathered in the council chamber at the authority's Cromer headquarters at 10am this morning where deputy leader Tom FitzPatrick made a brief statement.
The timing coincided with what should have been the start of a cabinet meeting but Mr FitzPatrick announced that it had been cancelled.
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He added: 'While the police are still waiting for formal identification to take place it is my very sad duty to inform members that we believe that the bodies are indeed those of Keith and Andrea Johnson.
'I am sure that councillors and officers alike will share the deep sense of loss that I and the rest of the cabinet feel at this terrible news and will join me in sending our condolences to the families of Keith and Andrea.
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'In the circumstances I am sure that you will all understand that I have decided to postpone the formal business of cabinet this morning as a mark of respect to a great friend and colleague.'
Many of those in the chamber were visibly shaken and some were in tears. They filed in silently to hear Mr FitzPatrick and stayed afterwards to be addressed in private by chief executive Sheila Oxtoby.
Councillor Peter Moore and his wife Ann were unaware of the tragedy until they arrived for what they had thought would be a routine cabinet meeting.
Mr Moore was ashen with shock at the news. He said he and Mr Johnson had been friends and former colleagues, both working for the district council, Mr Moore in planning and Mr Johnson in the treasury.
Virginia Gay, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the council, said they were all profoundly shocked by the news. 'Many of us have known Keith for a very long time. He was a good friend, a kindly man and a devoted councillor. We shall all miss him,' she added.
Fellow cabinet member Trevor Ivory said the mood throughout the building was one of complete disbelief and sadness.
He added: 'Keith was a great man - a larger than life character. He wasn't just respected but I think loved by officers and councillors alike, and by the people of Cromer and north Norfolk.'
In a statement released shortly after the meeting Mrs Oxtoby said they had learned of the deaths with enormous shock and huge sadness.
She added: 'Keith was a highly-respected and much-loved member of North Norfolk District Council. He will be greatly missed by the council and his death is a great loss to the whole community.
'Keith and Andrea were well known by many people in the district and our thoughts and prayers go out to both their families and close friends.'
Mr FitzPatrick added that Mr Johnson had been a great champion for north Norfolk and a great friend, adding: 'He worked tirelessly for the council and for the people who live here. We will all miss him hugely.'
Norfolk County Council's cabinet rose for a moment's silence this morning to remember Mr and Mrs Johnson.
Deputy leader Bill Borrett asked councillors and the public to stand in silence after saying he expected everyone had heard the 'sad news' about the pair.