Man murders his wife after her coughing kept him awake

Mr Furneaux was declared dead at the scene (Photo: Somerset Live)

A pensioner murdered his disabled wife and then drove his car into a tree, killing himself, an inquest heard.

Edward Austin Furneaux had spent a year caring for wife Ann after she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). She also suffered from emphysema.

Retired accountant Mr Furneaux sought help from his GP for anxiety issues after his wife's loud coughing at night caused him to stay awake for hours.

Mr Furneaux stabbed wife Ann in the neck before driving his car into the tree on Kewstoke Road in Weston-super-Mare on January 19.

Police had found his wife, Ann, with stab wound and she had also been hit over the head with a hammer, the Bristol Post reported .

He was declared dead at the scene after hitting the tree despite the best efforts of medical staff who gave him CPR.

A police officer was sent to the scene to inform his wife but got no answer at the door when he knocked.

The officer then got the house keys from the crash site, about a mile away, and entered the house to find Ann’s body.

A claw hammer was found on the bed with her, with her blood and hair. They also found a knife in the basin in the bathroom.

Detective Constable Richard Kitchener told Avon Coroners Court Mr Furneaux had tried to clean the blood off the knife.

The pair had been married for around 50 years, with friends describing a happy couple who often went on long holidays together and were “inseparable”.

Their close friends, Michael and Sylvia Philips, agreed that Ann was the “dominant one” in the relationship, and Edward – also known as Eddie to many – was shy and quiet.

Ann was struck down with shingles and pulmonary disease, and in spring 2016, was prescribed oxygen cylinders.

Her health started getting worse, and she would not leave her bedroom, leaving her husband to do the household chores and to cook.

DC Kitchener said they found evidence Edward was struggling in the kitchen, learning from simple recipes and using canned food.

It started taking a toll on Edward.

He slept at the rear bedroom of the house, while Ann slept in the front bedroom.

Officers found ear defenders stuffed with cotton wool near his bedside when they searched the house.

A few days before the tragic incidents, he had gone to see his GP, saying he was suffering from sleep problems for a long time and had anxiety issues.

He also told friends he was “at the end of his tether” and that it was all too much for him.

On the day in question, January 19, neighbours said they had heard Edward slam the door quite early in the morning, something they described as “unusual”.

The well-loved man, also known as Eddie, had gone to his car without defrosting his windscreen.

He crashed the car just a mile from his home.

PC Joseph Sample, the crash investigating officer, told the court the crash had such great impact the car’s battery and lights had been thrown from it.

Police believe he might have been travelling about 60mph just before the crash. The speedometer’s needle was stuck.

They could find no evidence he had his seat belt on, and there were no skid marks on the ground to show he might have tried to avoid the crash.

Edward suffered severe chest injuries, which led to his death, but a post mortem report showed he also had suffered injuries to his neck and wrist.

Dr Russell Delaney, who carried out the examination, said the latter injuries were “not consistent” with a car crash.

Officers found Ann’s body about 90 minutes later.

She was slouched over her breakfast, and the court heard she was just about to drink her tea when she was hit in the head and stabbed in the neck.

DC Kitchener told the court there were no signs of a forced entry, and the curtains were drawn.

In his conclusion, assistant coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said there was no evidence to suggest Edward had tried to stop his car.

But he recorded a narrative verdict, saying it was not “beyond all reasonable doubt” that he had tried to take his own life.

He recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing with regards to Ann’s death.

Police confirmed there is no ongoing investigation.


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