A gun dealer who shot and killed his wife at their home in the vilage of Barham near Ipswich has been jailed for life, but will initially be detained in a secure hospital.
The Judge said the case brought a sharp focus on an array of topical issues including violence against women and the impact the pandemic has had on people's mental health.
Silka Hartshorne-Jones was shot by her husband while their eight-year-old twin boys slept in nearby rooms.
During the first lockdown last year Peter Hartshorne-Jones became increasingly concerned about Coronavirus. He claimed to have the virus but that no one was listening to him. He had extensive contact with medical services, on 26 occasions between March and April last year.
A few days before the killing, Silka had told a neighbour her husband was not good at all and she was finding it difficult.
IpswichCrown Court heard how in the early hours of 3rd May the children were awoken by screaming. One of them found their mother unconscious on her bedroom floor covered in blood. She’d sustained fatal wounds to her arms and chest.
Peter Hartshorne Jones called the police and told the operator “I’ve just shot my wife” “I think she’s dying actually”.
Forensic psychiatrists agreed that he had been suffering from an 'abnormality of mental function', due to a hypochondriac disorder with psychotic symptoms, which had worsened during the lockdown.
Peter Hartshorne-Jones held a shotgun certificate and a firearms dealer licence. In the applications and renewals for these he’d declared he had no medical conditions and said he hadn’t attended a GP’s for mental or nervous disorder, when in fact he had suffered recurrent depression.
He had his certificate renewed in July 2015, after Home Office rules had changed meaning the GPs of applicants were approached by police and asked to disclose any 'relevant conditions' that they had. But the court heard, no adverse medical reports were received at the time.
Detective Inspector Karl Nightingale from Suffolk Police told ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer that Peter Hartshorne-Jones had lied when applying for his gun licence
In statements read out to the court, Silka’s cousin Kristen Thormann said Silka’s death had left “an ocean of tears in me and a shadow on my soul”. She spoke of the defendant’s hollow superiority that had robbed the children of their mummy and daddy and traumatised them forever.
She said she felt outraged as a woman explaining Silka was meant to be safe in her home with a man who was meant to love and care for her. Instead, she said, he chose to get a gun and shoot her. She said it was paramount that society teach men not to abuse, harass and hurt women.
Silka’s brother, Jens Lutschewicz, spoke of his constant worry for Silka’s children who have lost their family, destroyed by their own father. He said the defendant had shown no remorse, no empathy and no interest in the well-being of his own children.
Mrs Hartshorne-Jones was a German national and qualified as a lawyer before moving to London in 2007. She married Hartshorne-Jones in 2010. He admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility.
Peter Hartshorne-Jones will be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. If he’s deemed fit enough for release he will serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.