Cromer double death inquest verdict: Hearing hears how Cromer council leader Keith Johnson made 'deliberate' decision to kill his wife Andrea and then himself
PUBLISHED: 13:22 24 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:22 24 September 2013
Archant Norfolk 2012
A Norfolk council leader and former mayor abused his wife behind closed doors for almost a decade before laying out wills and funeral instructions, then luring her to her death, a hearing heard today.
Keith Johnson, 58, shot his wife Andrea, 44, dead outside their home in Compit Hills, near Cromer, before turning the gun on himself on December 2.
Following an inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court, a domestic violence homicide review was published detailing how the leader of North Norfolk District Council and former Cromer mayor abused his wife.
Police and health professionals had not been aware of the violence, which came to light in a diary found after Mrs Johnson’s death.
On the day of the murders, Mr Johnson armed himself with his wife’s shotgun and invited her back to their bungalow, promising he would not harm her, the inquest heard.
Coroner William Armstrong concluded that Mrs Johnson suffered an unlawful death while Mr Johnson killed himself.
He said: “These deaths could not have been foreseen by the police, by medical professionals or anybody else concerned.”
Mr Armstrong said: “The killing of Andrea by Keith was not committed in a moment of madness or while his ability to control his actions was impaired.
“The killing was deliberate. He made a decision to kill Andrea and then to kill himself.”
Gaynor Mears, who wrote the report, said the case highlighted that domestic violence existed within all social classes and said people should not be blinded by a person’s public image.
She told the inquest: “It happens in urban areas, rural areas and across all social stratas.”
The couple, who had no children, had been together for almost 20 years and married in 2004. They were in an open relationship, with both having affairs.
The inquest heard Mr Johnson threw customer services worker Mrs Johnson out of their bungalow the previous night because he felt she was impeding his career.
He invited her back the next day with the promise that he would not be violent.
He was waiting for her with a shotgun and police found a series of notes, including details of how to dispose of the estate and how the couple should be buried, suggesting he had planned the murder.
Detective Sergeant Paul Brownsell said Mr Johnson had apparently prepared for the murder by taking the shotgun, legally held by his wife for clay pigeon shooting, from its cabinet.
He said: “Earlier that morning he settled a paper bill, went to see his mother and got out various wills and wrote various notes which were left on display on a kitchen worktop.
“He was usually gregarious and larger than life but, from our investigations, it would appear that he was subdued and not himself.”
After being asked to leave the house, Mrs Johnson went to stay with Robert Jeans, with whom she was in a “close relationship”.
The next morning she asked Mr Jeans to drive her back to the bungalow.
“He promised he wouldn’t hurt her if she went back home to talk to him,” Mr Jeans said.
Mrs Johnson called the police at 2.28pm as the incident unfolded.
The call handler heard an explosion and somebody crying out.
Neighbour Briar Feek was the first on the scene.
She found Mrs Johnson lying in her driveway and called 999. Paramedics instructed her how to resucitate Mrs Johnson but there was nothing she could do, the inquest heard.
“I could not feel any pulse,” she said.
“I heard another muffled bang. There was about five to eight minutes between the bangs.”
The hearing also heard that a call was made by Mrs Johnson about domestic violence in the year before the deaths.
Det Sgt Paul Brownsell said Andrea Johnson had called 999 on August 9 2011 and said: “Help me.”
He said police attended the couple’s home at 39, Compit Hills near Cromer, and Mr Johnson said he knew various people within Norfolk Constabulary and all was well.
DS Brownsell added: “Officers spoke to Andrea away from Keith while she was in bed. She didn’t engage and wouldn’t confirm or deny what had gone on.”
Later, Mrs Johnson’s mother Janice Chadwick asked the officer why police had not returned the following day, adding: “If they had come back, she may have talked to them.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES - CROMER DOUBLE DEATH