Cromer deaths: Husband, 83, killed wife with hammer in seaside town before taking own life

Helen and Alex Lawrie died in Cromer in April 2022.
Credit: ITV News Anglia
Police were called to the couple's home in Cromer on 4 April. Credit: ITV News Anglia

An elderly man killed his ill wife by hitting her in the back of the head with a hammer before taking his own life, an inquest heard.

Alexander and Helen Lawrie, both 83, had previously spoken to friends and medical professionals about dying together, including by Dignitas, a hearing in Norwich was told.

Family members who attended the inquest described the couple, who had been childhood sweethearts, as “absolutely devoted to one another” in evidence. 

The inquest heard how Mrs Lawrie, who had owned three hair salons and lectured in hairdressing, had deteriorating health.

The coroner concluded Mrs Lawrie's death was unlawful killing, while Mr Lawrie's death was recorded as suicide.

In the months leading up to her death Mrs Lawrie had struggled with speech, mobility, eyesight and had a number of other health complications. 

A neighbour who had known the couple for decades said in a statement the two had years before mentioned “on more than one occasion, if one of us were to die, we’d both go together”. 

The pair were found dead inside the conservatory of a property in The Warren in Cromer on 4 April 2022 by the neighbour and Mrs Lawrie’s part-time carer. 

A note left at the scene suggested the decision had been taken due to Mrs Lawrie's deteriorating health. 

After meeting in their teens in Harlow in Essex the pair married and moved to Norfolk, having three sons. 

One of their sons, Paul Lawrie, had spoken to his father on the phone the day they both died. 

In a statement read to the inquest Mr Lawrie said the 11-minute call to his father was the last time they spoke.

Mrs Lawrie died from severe head injuries, with at least one blow coming from a hammer.  Mr Lawrie died after serious injuries to his leg led to a haemorrhage. 

The area coroner, Yvonne Blake, told Norwich Coroner's Court that it was clear Mrs Lawrie was a “happily married lady”. 

“She had a lovely home, no financial worries, it appears that the only worry was her deteriorating health,” she said.

Speaking about the couple Ms Blake said: “They both seemed content in their own company”. 

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