Suffolk National Trust volunteers found dead with pet cat after husband killed wife and then himself

The house where husband and wife Jonathan and Sally Metcalf were found dead alongside their cat
The house where husband and wife Jonathan and Sally Metcalf were found dead alongside their cat Credit: ITV News Anglia

A couple were found dead alongside their cat after a husband killed his wife and then himself.

Retired photographer Jonathan Metcalf, 72, and 68-year-old Sally Metcalf died at their home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in April.

The pair volunteered at the National Trust's Sutton Hoo and staff raised the alarm after they could not get hold of them.

An inquest heard Mr Metcalf had been struggling with his mental health and family members had worried about the impact any bad news could have on him.

The couple - who were both National Trust volunteers - were found dead alongside their 19-year-old cat who had kidney failure. The pet died from natural causes but it is not known whether it died before or after the couple.

An inquest concluded Mrs Metcalf was unlawfully killed and died of compression of the neck caused either by strangulation or a choke hold. Her husband died by suicide - and police said there was no third party involvement.

Suffolk senior coroner Nigel Parsley asked detective sergeant Simon Fitch, of Suffolk Police: "Is there any evidence that would indicate the death of the cat was a trigger for Jonathan, or can you not say with any certainty?"

The officer replied: "We can't say that with any certainty, unfortunately, but clearly the cat was very loved and very well thought of so that may have been a contributory factor."

Mrs Metcalf's sister, Joanna Cunningham, said that Mr Metcalf was a recovering alcoholic and went to the Priory rehabilitation centre "about eight years ago. He was there for six weeks".

She said her sister had told her that Mr Metcalf "felt like a failure, was crying at night and clinging to (her)".

She said the pair had a 19-year-old cat that was "suffering from kidney failure" and was kept on an electric blanket on their bed.

"I was concerned when the day came that the cat passed away it would have left them utterly bereft," she said.

Allison Girling, operations manager at Sutton Hoo, where the Metcalfs were volunteers, said the couple "would do everything together and were rarely seen apart".

She said Mrs Metcalf had been worried about her husband's mental health.

"He was having trouble sleeping and wanted to be with her all the time," Ms Girling said.

Marilyn Gill-Flaskett, who had known Mrs Metcalf since she was 16 years old, described the Metcalfs' relationship as "strong".

"I know Sally thought the world of Jonathan and vice versa," she said, adding: "I know Jonathan had some issues."

GP notes for Mr Metcalf recorded that his last consultation was on 31 March for anxiety, and he had been prescribed antidepressants on 26 March when he was described as anxious and tearful.

Mr Parsley extended his condolences to relatives who attended Tuesday's inquest hearing.