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Post-mortem on Stowmarket couple suggests man stabbed his wife to death before hanging himself

PUBLISHED: 21:42 01 March 2017 | UPDATED: 21:56 01 March 2017

Sarah and Richard Pitkin, when they opened the Harlequin Tea Room in Stowmarket, taken in 2009 Photo: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah and Richard Pitkin, when they opened the Harlequin Tea Room in Stowmarket, taken in 2009 Photo: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A man stabbed his wife to death before killing himself at their Stowmarket home.

Flowers left outside Richard and Sarah Pitkin's home in Stowmarket. Picture: MATT REASONFlowers left outside Richard and Sarah Pitkin's home in Stowmarket. Picture: MATT REASON

Home Office post-mortem examinations, which were carried out yesterday on the bodies now formally identified as Richard and Sarah Pitkin, concluded the woman died of multiple stab wounds while the man’s death was found to be as a result of hanging.

Suffolk Constabulary tonight confirmed it was treating the woman’s death as murder. The man’s death is not being classed as suspicious.

A spokesman for the force said: “The police investigation is continuing, but detectives are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.”

Police were called to a house in Stowupland Street at 1.45pm on Sunday and on arrival found a man and a woman dead inside.

Sarah and Richard Pitkin, outside the Harlequin Tea Room in 2009. Photo: SARAH LUCY BROWNSarah and Richard Pitkin, outside the Harlequin Tea Room in 2009. Photo: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The pair have since been formally identified as Richard and Sarah Pitkin, a well known couple with four children.

Mr Pitkin, 65, ran a decorating and carpentry business with his son, and was described as a hard working and talented craftsman.

Mrs Pitkin, 58, was the assistant manager at the St Elizabeth Hospice charity shop on Bury Street. The couple previously converted part of their 16th century townhouse into a tearoom.

It was run by Mrs Pitkin between 2009 and 2011, but they struggled to make the business profitable.

The news of their death has shocked the town, with local historian and close friend Steve Williams joining the tributes paid to the “lovely couple”.

He said: “He got so entwined in local life and was so well known in the years he’d been in the area that it’s come as an awful shock.”

The last time he spoke to Mr Pitkin was just before Christmas, when he said he had a lot of work on and was “busy flying about across Suffolk”.

“They were a nice, friendly local couple who were easy to get along with,” said Mr Williams.

“We’re just waiting for further news as to the whys and the wherefores. It’s such a shock and so out of the blue.”

Forensic investigators have been collecting evidence from the scene since Sunday.

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