Husband killed wife before taking his own life, coroner concludes

Jonathan Metcalf

The couple's house in Cumberland Street, Woodbridge, where Jonathan Metcalf (inset) killed his wife Sally Metcalf before taking his own life - Credit: ARCHANT

A National Trust volunteer was strangled by her husband at their Woodbridge home before he took his own life, a coroner's court heard. 

Sally Metcalf, 68, worked at Sutton Hoo as a volunteer alongside husband Jonathan Metcalf, 72, and the couple were described as "popular members of the team" who would "rarely do anything apart", Suffolk Coroner's Court heard in two separate inquests on Tuesday. 

On April 10, 2021, police were called to the couple's address in Cumberland Street, Woodbridge, by Mrs Metcalf's brother, Richard Card, who had obtained keys from a neighbour following a lack of contact over several days. 

The body of Mrs Metcalf was found lying on the bed upstairs in the property while Mr Metcalf was discovered dead downstairs, the court heard. 

Jonathan Metcalf Woodbridge

Jonathan Metcalf pictured in 2009 - Credit: Archant

A post-mortem examination revealed Mrs Metcalf died from compression of the neck caused by strangulation or the use of a neck or choke hold. 

In Mr Metcalf's case, the cause of death was recorded as hanging. 

The couple's much-loved elderly cat was also discovered dead at the scene but was found to have died from natural causes, Nigel Parsley, senior coroner for Suffolk, said. 

Mr Parsley said there was no evidence to suggest the death of the cat was a trigger for Mr Metcalf, or any evidence regarding the time of death of the cat. 

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The inquests heard that Mr Metcalf suffered from depression and was a recovering alcoholic.

He received treatment at The Priory clinic around eight years ago and spent six weeks there.

Mr Metcalf had recently become "severely depressed" and had been prescribed medication, Joanna Cunningham, Mrs Metcalf's sister, said in a statement. 

Ms Cunningham said she spoke regularly with Mrs Metcalf on the telephone from her home in Gloucestershire but was sometimes unable to talk in-depth about Mr Metcalf's condition as her sister did not want to upset him. 

Mrs Metcalf also confided that she was worried about leaving her husband alone due to his "deteriorating" mental state. 

In a statement, Allison Girling, property operations manager at Sutton Hoo, described Mrs Metcalf as a "reliable, friendly person" and said the historic Anglo-Saxon burial site was "a large part of her life". 

Ms Girling added that the couple, who moved to Suffolk for retirement, were popular members of the team and would do everything together. 

Mr Metcalf's sister, Patricia Lewis, said in a statement she last spoke to her brother a few days before the incident and he seemed fine. 

She said he was "devoted to his wife" and it was an "unimaginable turn of events". 

Detective Sergeant Simon Fitch, from Suffolk Constabulary, gave evidence at both inquests regarding the police investigation. 

He told the court there was no forensic evidence of any third party involvement. 

The final hypothesis of the police investigation was that Mr Metcalf killed Mrs Metcalf before taking his own life, DS Fitch said. 

Mr Parsley concluded that Mrs Metcalf died as a result of an unlawful killing while Mr Metcalf died as a result of suicide. 

For advice or support contact the Samaritans on 116 123. 

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