A support worker stabbed his wife to death at their own home before later taking his own life, an inquest has heard.
Kerry Bradford, 57, was stabbed to death by husband Nicholas Bradford in a "vicious attack" on April 25 last year at their home in Monnow Way in Bettws, Newport, before Mr Bradford took his own life.
An inquest at Gwent Coroner's Court in Newport on Tuesday, May 31, heard that at 6.15pm on Sunday, April 25, 2021, police were called to an address in Monnow Way in Bettws where they found store assistant Mrs Bradford on her living room sofa with “multiple stab wounds to the neck”.
Two knives, with one covered blood, were found in the kitchen and the pair's mobile phones were found in their hot tub.
Earlier the same day officers had been called to a multi-storey car park three miles away following reports that a man had fallen. The man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was later identified as 57-year-old support worker Nicholas Bradford.
Wife felt 'unhappy' in their home
The inquest heard Mr and Mrs Bradford had been married for almost 38 years, having first met as teenagers, but had been having trouble in their marriage.
Mr Bradford, who was described as a man who "took his role seriously" as a support worker, had previously had a number of people staying in the family home who needed care. The court heard this had put a strain on he and his wife's marriage, with Mrs Bradford's stepfather David Quarterly saying she told him she was "unhappy" and felt she could not do what she wanted in her own home. This resulted in her going to stay at their son Ryan Bradford's house for several weeks.
A statement from Mr Bradford's GP said Mr Bradford had suffered from ongoing health issues including high blood pressure and had suffered from anxiety and depression back in September 2007, but had not shown any signs of recent mental health issues in the time leading up to his death.
However, a statement read on behalf of Mr and Mrs Bradford's son Ryan said that a few weeks before his death, Mr Bradford had sent his son a text saying: "Put me next to nan's grave." He said he had been worried by this and had gone over to see his father, who he found lying on the floor of the shed and refusing to get up. He went to phone someone but later found Mr Bradford on the sofa, saying "I could do this all day."
Ryan Bradford said his father told him he hadn't meant what he'd said in his text, but that next time he would "do it properly", which he understood to mean Mr Bradford could take his own life.
On April 25, 2021, Mr Bradford, who had been staying with his sister Dominique Blackman, had walked over to his and Mrs Bradford's home on Monnow Way, where they were due to discuss their relationship and plans for a holiday. A statement from their daughter Lynsey Bradford said she went over to visit them that day with her partner and daughter. She said they'd had tea and sandwiches and chatted and that her father soon arrived with bags of washing.
At one point Lynsey was out in their garden when Mr Bradford came out and asked if she and the others could leave, as he wanted to speak to Mrs Bradford alone. They said their goodbyes and she said "there was nothing out of the ordinary" as they left their parents' house just before 3pm that afternoon.
The court heard Mr Bradford called his sister Dominique Blackman around the time the others left the house, and that he sounded "fine." A statement from Ms Blackman said she took this to mean things were going well between him and his wife, and the discussion about their relationship.
Witness DC Rhys Lawrence, the officer in the case from Gwent Police, told the court that both Mr and Mrs Bradford's mobile phones disconnected at around 3.21pm, and were later discovered in a hot tub at the back of their garden. He said he believed it was during the period between 3.13pm and 3.21pm that Mrs Bradford was killed. He said evidence showed Mr Bradford had gone into their garage and "tried to harm himself using the exhaust of the car" there. A note written by Mrs Bradford was also found in the garage.
DC Lawrence said neighbours had reported seeing Mr Bradford leaving the house between 4pm and 5pm, but could not give an exact time for this.
At around 4.41pm on April 25, a group of youths noticed a man who appeared to have fallen from a car park, one of whom phoned 999. Officers and paramedics attended the scene, where Mr Bradford was confirmed to have died as a result of blunt force injuries. Less than two hours later, police arrived at the family home to inform Mrs Bradford of her husband's death, and found her on the sofa having sustained multiple knife wounds to her neck, with two knives in the kitchen and both their mobile phones in the hot tub at the back of the garden.
Phone searches for 'how to stab somebody in the neck'
The inquest also heard Mr Bradford had made a number of searches on his mobile phone in the weeks leading up to the incident. DC Lawrence said Mr Bradford had searched on March 10, 2021, for information on how a person would die from exhaust fumes. On April 22, 2021, three days before he died, DC Lawrence said Mr Bradford searched for information on how to stab somebody in the neck.
Mr and Mrs Bradford's son Ryan Bradford described his mother as a "loving, caring person" who had seemed happier in the time she was staying with him, having described herself as needing space. He spoke to his mother on the day she died and said she seemed "on edge", adding: "I had my concerns about dad and that he would commit suicide but I never thought he would hurt my mum."
Toxicology reports found no traces of drugs or alcohol in either Mr or Ms Bradford’s systems.
Senior coroner Caroline Saunders said: "This is a sad and extremely tragic case and a waste of two lives."
She said it was clear Mr and Mrs Bradford had been encountering difficulties in their marriage and that Mr Bradford had not been diagnosed with any mental health problems in the lead-up to their deaths.
Ms Saunders said she considered that Mr Bradford had attacked his wife and stabbed her multiple times in the neck with a knife taken from their kitchen. While she said there was not enough evidence to determine what had happened in the minutes leading up to her death, she said: "This was a vicious attack. It was no accident and there was no evidence this was an act of self-defence."
Recording Mrs Bradford's medical cause of death as multiple stab wounds to the neck, Ms Saunders said: "She was at her home address. At approximately 3.13pm she was attacked with a knife and sustained fatal injuries to her neck and died instantaneously of blood loss." She recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing.
Nicholas Bradford's medical cause of death as was confirmed as multiple blunt force injuries and recorded by the coroner as suicide.
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