Sentencing adjourned for gun dealer who shot wife dead at farmhouse

A police cordon in place at the scene of a shooting in Barham where Silke Hartshorne-Jones (inset) w

A police cordon in place at the scene in Barham, where Silke Hartshorne-Jones (inset) was shot  - Credit: Archant

The sentencing hearing of a gun dealer who shot his wife at their Suffolk farmhouse during lockdown last year, while their eight-year-old twin sons were in the house, has been adjourned until Thursday.

Peter Hartshorne-Jones, who has admitted the manslaughter of his 42-year-old wife Silke, was due to have been sentenced on Monday at Ipswich Crown Court but Judge Martyn Levett said he needed more time to formulate his sentencing remarks.

Mrs Hartshorne-Jones was taken to Ipswich Hospital in May last year after being shot twice in the chest at the couple’s 17th century farmhouse in Barham but died from her injuries.

After the shooting, her 52-year-old husband made a 999 call from his landline at 4.44am "asking for the police, not the ambulance service", said Peter Gair, prosecuting.

During the call, he told the operator he had shot his wife “10 minutes ago”. 

He had then added: “I think she's dying, actually” and then went on to say he had shot her twice in the chest.

He remained on the phone while armed officers were sent to the house and he was arrested on the driveway. 

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His wife, who had wounds to her left upper arm and chest, was found on her bedroom floor. She had gone into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead in hospital at 6.42am.

Mr Gair said there didn’t appear to have been any problems with the marriage until March 2020 when the first coronavirus lockdown.

"It's then clear from the evidence that the defendant believed he had been infected by the virus,” said Mr Gair.

The court heard that Hartshorne-Jones contacted health care professionals, including the ambulance service, doctors and hospitals, 26 times in 42 days during the first national lockdown, believing he had coronavirus but no cause for his symptoms was found.

The court heard that forensic psychiatrists agreed that he had been suffering from an 'abnormality of mental function', due to a hypochondriac disorder with psychotic symptoms which had worsened during the lockdown.

He was said to have locked himself in a bedroom to avoid catching Covid-19 and thought he had become infected.

An earlier hearing the court heard that he had been angry about his wife dropping tissues around the house.

The court heard he told one neighbour he had the virus and 'nobody was paying attention' to him.

The court heard that Hartshorne-Jones first got a shotgun certificate in 2000 and it was renewed in 2015.

He had also obtained a firearms dealer registration in 2010, said Mr Gair.

The court heard he had answered "no" to a question on firearms certificate applications in 2000 and 2015 about whether he had ever received treatment for a mental health condition.

However, it had since been found that there were episodes of depression recorded in his medical notes prior to the applications.

Police seized eight shotguns, two rifles, two air rifles and nine stocks and barrels from the home after the killing, all of which were held in accordance with licensing requirements, said Mr Gair.

Mrs Hartshorne-Jones, a German national, qualified as a lawyer before moving to London in 2007.

She married Hartshorne-Jones, who admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility, in 2010.

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