Gun dealer who shot wife dead during lockdown ‘thought he had Covid and called medics 26 times’

·3-min read
Silke Hartshorne-Jones (Silke Hartshorne-Jones)
Silke Hartshorne-Jones (Silke Hartshorne-Jones)

A man who shot his wife dead during lockdown thought he had Covid and had contacted health professionals 26 times, a court has heard.

Gun dealer Peter Hartshorne-Jones used a double-barreled shotgun to fire at his wife, Silke, last year, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

He shot her twice at close-range at their home in Suffolk on 3 May during the first national coronavirus lockdown, the court heard.

The prosecution said 42-year-old Ms Hartshorne-Jones told a neighbour days before she died that her 52-year-old husband “was not good at all and she was finding it difficult”.

Peter Gair, the prosecutor, said the defendant made “extensive contact with various health professionals” between 16 March and 27 April.

Mr Hartshorne-Jones got in touch with providers - including the ambulance service, A&E departments and private GPs - 26 times during this period, Mr Gair told the court.

No cause for the 52-year-old’s symptoms was found, the prosecution counsel added.

The defendant admitted at an earlier hearing to manslaughter by diminished responsibility, with the court told he was found to have been “suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning”.

Silke Hartshorne-Jones died in May last year (LinkedIn)
Silke Hartshorne-Jones died in May last year (LinkedIn)

After shooting his wife, the defendant made a 999 call from his landline at 4.44am “asking for the police, not the ambulance service”, Mr Gair said.

“During the course of that call he told the operator he had shot his wife, saying ‘10 minutes ago’,” the prosecutor said.

“He added ‘I think she’s dying, actually.’

“He went on to say he shot his wife twice in the chest, which is not far from the truth. He remained on the phone while armed officers were dispatched to his address.”

Silke Hartshorne-Jones was shot at her home in Suffolk last year (ITV News)
Silke Hartshorne-Jones was shot at her home in Suffolk last year (ITV News)

Mr Hartshorne-Jones was arrested on the driveway of his home in Barham, a village in Suffolk.

His 42-year-old wife, a German national who was a qualified lawyer, was found on her bedroom floor with injuries to her left upper arm and chest. She went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead in hospital just after 6.40am.

The couple had been married since 2010 - three years after Ms Hartshorne-Jones moved to London.

“There’s no evidence that I’ve seen from any source of any problems with the marriage until March 2020 when of course the Covid-19 pandemic reached its peak in the UK in the sense that the first lockdown was then imposed,” prosecution counsel Mr Gair said.

“It’s then clear from the evidence that the defendant believed that he had been infected by the virus.”

Mr Gair told Ispwich Crown Court the defendant had answered “no” on a firearms certificate applications in 2000 and 2015 in response to a question asking if he had ever received treatment for a mental health condition.

The prosecutor said it has since been found that “there are episodes recorded in his medical notes of depression prior to the signing by him, certainly for renewal in 2015”.

He said police are revoking the defendant’s firearms licences.

The sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court will continue on Thursday.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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