Police watchdog to oversee double death probe

A POLICING watchdog has been drafted in to supervise an investigation into the handling of a case which involved an estranged couple later found dead.

Laurence Cawley

A POLICING watchdog has been drafted in to supervise an investigation into the handling of a case which involved an estranged couple later found dead.

Cambridgeshire police referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) the day after the bodies of Keith McDonald and his wife Christine, of Mildenhall, were found in a bungalow in New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, on May 8.

The couple, who were both taxi drivers in the town, were found in what had been their shared home when emergency services were alerted after a report of a fire in the property.

Police said that Mrs McDonald, 47, of Lapwing Court, Mildenhall, died from stab wounds to her chest and abdomen. Mr McDonald, 48, of New Cheveley Road, died from inhalation of fire fumes.

In a statement, the families of the couple said: “It is beyond our understanding how the marriage of such an outgoing couple with lots of friends and well known to the community could have ended after 19 years in such a tragic way.”

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But it was later revealed that Mr McDonald was facing charges of affray and had been due to appear before Cambridge magistrates exactly a week after their deaths.

The charge related to an alleged incident involving the couple on April 8.

The IPCC has confirmed it is supervising an investigation which is being carried out by Cambridgeshire police into the force's handling of matters leading up to their deaths.

A spokesman for the commission said: "The IPCC has considered the circumstances of the referral and it has been decided that the IPCC will supervise the police force's investigation."

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “A Cambridgeshire Constabulary investigation into the circumstances of these deaths, and the events which led to them, is ongoing, and will continue to be handled by the force.

“We have invited the Independent Police Complaints Commission to oversee this work.”

Inquests into the couple's deaths have been formally opened and adjourned to an unspecified date later this year.