Husband strangled wife with hairdryer cord then hanged himself after she asked for divorce — (The Mirror)

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The Mirror

Lauren Brown

Mark Langtree killed his wife days before she was due to move out of the family home with their two daughters

A father-of-two strangled his wife with a hairdryer cord then hanged himself after his marriage broke down.

Mark Langtree’s father John made the gruesome discovery after he went around to his son’s luxury home when he hadn’t heard from him, an inquest heard.

The day before Mark, 48, had asked his father to bring £5,000 to the house when picking up his granddaughters because his wife, Nicola, was moving out of the marital home and taking their daughters with her.

The couple were both project managers and had been married for 12 years after meeting while working at Royal Sun Alliance but were living separate lives, the inquest held at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard.

Nicola, 43, had recently instigated a divorce and was said to have been moving into a rented property on Saturday, November 15.

But they were discovered dead on Thursday, November 13 last year.

Mark had been diagnosed with depression and had been on medication.

He had believed that his wife was having an affair and had “stalked” her when she returned to work as a contractor at the Royal Sun Alliance, taking photos outside her workplace.

Nicola’s father James Byrne said his daughter had disclosed problems within their marriage and that her health was in decline.

She was said to have been prescribed anti-depressants and was increasingly anxious and nervous.

Mr Byrne said that he had been aware that they had been encountering problems and spoke of his son-in-law’s lack of trust after she began working at Royal Sun Alliance in 2008.

He said: “I think he thought she was seeing someone. He started checking her phone and this and that. He didn’t trust her.

“She wasn’t doing anything. I think he was paranoid about it.”

He said that his daughter had instigated the divorce and Mark had been to see him a month before their deaths.

“He was backed up in a corner whether Nicola was going to leave him or whether to open the letter and get a solicitor and deal with it that way or try to save the marriage.,” Mr Byrne told the court.

“Towards the end of the conversations he said he was going to try and save the marriage.”


Discovery: Woodlands Park Close in Wigan where the bodies were found

On July 15 last year Nicola returned home from work and found Mark in what had been believed to be an attempted suicide – with a rope around his neck having taken drink and tablets.

Mr Byrne spoke of a time his daughter believed she had her wine drugged and had lost consciousness.

“The glass of wine was already poured. He said, ‘here you go, there’s a glass of wine for you’.

“She drank it and said it tasted metallic. She said she felt all dizzy and then the next thing she knew she was staggering around the room, collapsed and then woke up naked on the floor.”

He said that he had spoken with his daughter and she had been intending to move out of the house the weekend of November 16.

“I think all she wanted was a quickie divorce,” he said.

Mark’s father John Langtree said the couple had been to marriage counselling and had been “all set in trying to make this marriage work.”

He added: “If you bumped into them you would never know they had problems. They were trying to show the outside world they were happy.”

He said his son went “deep into depression” and there were concerns he wasn’t getting out of bed.

The July incident, when his wife had found him with a rope around his neck, had been “a cry for help” and that he was referred to the mental health services, he said.

Mr Langtree added: “He was afraid of losing the children. Nicola has said ‘if you are depressed you won’t get the girls’.

“He tried to snap out of the depression.”

He last had contact with his son on November 12 when he picked up the girls, aged eight and 11, from their home in Whitley, Wigan, which he did every Wednesday.

“He was fine, he was listening to music on the computer. I gave him a kiss,” Mr Langtree said.

The following morning Mark never called, as he always did.

He tried both parents but got no answer before going to their home.

Upon finding his son he phoned the emergency services.

Mr Langtree told the court: “I would like to apologise for the actions of Mark, we are deeply, deeply sorry. Deep down he was a good man.”

Injuries: Nicola Langtree had a bruised face and strangulation marks on her neck

Home Office pathologist Philip Lumb said that Nicola had suffered a striking horizontal ligature to her neck and injuries and bruising to her face and chest, including a bruised eye and jaw.

Dr Lumb said the ligature marks were consistent with an electrical cable and the hair dryer had been the closest match.

He added that the bruise to the jaw could have been from a blow such as a punch or could have been from contact with the ground.

Dr Lumb could not say the exact time when the couple died.

Assistant coroner Rachel Griffin said that she was satisfied that Nicola died from pressure to the neck and Mark died from hanging.

She said: “I’m satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Nicola was unlawfully killed. I’m satisfied that the cause of death was ligature strangulation by another.

“I’m satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mark took his own life and I record a verdict of suicide.”

She added: “What occurred can only be described as a tragedy of extreme proportion and my greatest sympathy remains with the two children Mia and Freya.

“They are two children who have lost not only one parent but both parents.”