Dad found four-year-old son dead after mother killed herself, inquest told
PUBLISHED: 13:39 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 06 January 2020
A four-year-old boy killed in a suspected murder/suicide in Suffolk was found by his father after his mother took her own life, an inquest heard.
Abhay Rao had only just turned four when he was found dead with his throat slit in the hall of the Newmarket home he shared with mother Snehashree Sudarshan, 28, and dad Ashok Rao.
Snehashree was found with similar injuries at the scene, in Park Avenue, on April 26 last year - just five days after the "happy little family" had celebrated Abhay's birthday.
Inquests into their deaths at Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich on Monday heard evidence from emergency workers who were first on the scene and the senior investigating officer of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Millar.
She said that in her 28 years of police service, this was "truly the saddest and most tragic case" she had ever investigated.
Police and paramedics had been called to Park Avenue shortly before 6pm on Friday, April 26, the inquest heard.
Paramedic Paul Shannon, one of the first emergency workers to arrive, described finding Abhay near the bottom of the stairs in a "pool of blood" with a cut to his throat.
There was a knife lying next to him.
A birthday banner was still up in the hall and a note written by Mrs Sudarshan had been found nearby, the inquest heard.
Police officer Jonathan Burke found her body in the kitchen.
Another paramedic described Mr Rao as "shell-shocked" and said he was taken into the back of an ambulance to be supported.
Colleagues who worked alongside Mrs Sudarshan at Burger King in Oak's Drive, Newmarket, noticed she had changed in the weeks before her death and had begun to seem "sad and moody", frequently bursting into tears.
She had moved to the UK after marrying Mr Rao in India in 2013.
DCI Miller said third-party involvement was ruled out early on, adding it was difficult for them to establish a motive.
"The motive for these tragic events may never be known but the letter, I believe written by Snehashree, gives an indication of her state of mind," she added.
"She clearly loved her son but tragically was internalising a lot of her feelings."
However, DCI Miller said she felt the letter written by Mrs Sudarshan indicated she had experienced "deep-rooted" feelings of low self esteem and loneliness, and felt there had been "adverse rejection" by the Indian community.
But she said nobody could have foreseen the tragic events of April 26, with Mr Rao adding his wife had "always seemed happy when she was with me", only going to the doctors for physical health problems.
Neighbour Gillian Holmes, a classroom assistant, said the family had lived in Park Avenue for around four years.
"I came to know them as a happy little family," she said.
"I would often hear the mum and little boy playing in the garden."
On the day of the incident, she heard Mr Rao say "she's killed herself".
Ms Holmes said she asked him where his son was, and Mr Rao replied "he's dead".
"Ashok kept saying 'why my baby, why my boy'," said Ms Holmes.
Post-mortem examinations found Abhay's medical cause of death to be due to an incised wound to the neck in association with compression of the neck.
Experts said the four-year-old's death was likely to have occurred shortly after he ate breakfast that morning.
Suffolk's senior coroner Nigel Parsley concluded that Abhay was unlawfully killed.
Mrs Sudarshan's cause of death was recorded as ligature compression of the neck in association with incised wounding of the neck.
Mr Parsley concluded that she died by suicide.
At the time of their deaths, Robert Nobbs, district councillor for Newmarket East, said the incident was "totally devastating".
"I'm obviously really saddened by it and it's come as quite a shock," he added.
"I know people who live in that area and they can't quite believe it has happened."
DCI Millar said an ongoing serious case review may help to better support women like Mrs Sudarshan in the future.