A HUSBAND killed his wife before shooting himself after deciding they had nothing but pain in their future, an inquest heard.

Wendy Ambrose, 77, had a large cancerous tumour and problems with her legs and back which meant she couldn’t walk upstairs to bed and slept in an armchair.

She had been given six to nine months to live.

Harold Ambrose, 82, suffered from dementia, took medication for Alzheimers and suffered stomach pain.

On May 24 last year, Mr Ambrose woke up and decided he was going to end it all.

He killed his wife, shooting her once in the face and once to the forehead with a shotgun he owned.

He then called police to tell them what he had done, stepped outside the house, put the shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, an inquest heard.

His final words to the 999 operator were: “We’re in love. We have enjoyed life but can only see death and horrible things in front of us.”

He then terminated the call and attempts to get him back on the phone failed.

A police firearms team and ambulance were called to their cottage, in Chapel Road, Boxted, but were too late.

Det Con Lea Goodwin, speaking at the inquest at County Hall on Tuesday, said: “We received a 999 call at 6.37am.
“Mr Ambrose was found lying on his back against a wall by the kitchen door wearing his pyjamas top and a dressing gown with a cartridge close to his hand and a shotgun on his chest.

“Mrs Ambrose was found in a chair sitting up.”

It is not known if Mrs Ambrose knew of his plan.

There seemed no indication she did as she was due to start chemotherapy two weeks later and had planned to see a solicitor the following week about selling the home.

It was hoped the sale would then fund the ailing couple moving into a care home.

The inquest heard Mr nAmbrose’s sister had told police that she and her brother, when they were much younger, had overheard their grandfather say he would shoot his wife if she ever got too ill.

Mr Ambrose had also told a senior care worker, the day before, things were a bit heated in the home as they discussed the future.

Area coroner Eleanor McGann ruled Wendy Ambrose was unlawfully killed and Harold Ambrose committed suicide.

Speaking to Wendy’s niece Mandy Freyer, about the couple who have a mentally disabled daughter, Claire, Ms McGann said: “I hope it is the happy memories you take away today.”

A police spokesman said the killing may have been prevented if police had known about Harold Ambrose’s dementia.

Mr Ambrose had a valid shotgun licence, which he used to kill his wife and himself.

His doctor’s surgery, despite knowing he had a firearms licence, did not inform Essex Police about his worsening mental condition – although there was no legal duty on them to do so.

It is not known if Mr Ambrose made a rational decision to end their lives due to their suffering or whether it was due to his dementia.

But attempts are being made to get this law changed so GPs are legally obliged to inform police when medical circumstances change which mean a firearms licence is no longer appropriate.

Chief Insp Glen Pavelin, from Essex Police, told the inquest: “From the details I have heard today my professional judgement would be had Essex Police had been in receipt of details around his deteriorating mental health that would have generated a period of review.”

Mr Ambrose held a licence from 1987 with the last issued in November 2011 for five years.

However, six months earlier, in March 2011, Mr Ambrose had a cognitive test.

At this point there was no mention of dementia.

By September 2012 delirium screenings were taking place and a confirmed diagnosis of dementia was made.

By May 2013, he was on medication for Alzheimers and by January 2014, various medication for his deteriorating mental health.

Nine days before the tragedy social services were refusing to deal with him until mental capacity tests were done.

At no point were police told about his changing condition.

There is no duty on them to ask or for medical practitioners to tell of a change in health.

A review of firearms licensing is taking place at Essex Police currently, although not as a direct result of this tragedy.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is also reviewing the situation.

Area coroner Eleanor McGann will be writing to the Home Office.

She said: “GPs are currently under no legal obligation to contact police.

“They may wish to consider changes should be made in that respect.

“Quite a lot of work is being done around that already.”