'Prominent' Tory councillor 'shoots wife dead before killing himself'

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Tragic: Councillor Keith Johnson is thought to have killed his wife before killing himself (SWNS)

A respected district councillor shot dead his wife before turning the gun on himself in a horrific murder-suicide, it was reported today.

Keith Johnson, 58, is thought to have gunned down Andrea, his wife of eight years, before killing himself in the back garden of the couple's quiet bungalow on Sunday.

Emergency services had raced to the scene after neighbours heard gunfire, but were unable to save Andrea, 44, who was found in the front garden, or her councillor husband.

Both had suffered gunshot wounds, while police had been called to the cul-de-sac after "concerns were raised for the safety of a resident".

Shocked neighbours in Roughton, near Cromer, Norfolk, revealed today they had spotted Mr Johnson looking 'down and miserable' on Saturday morning, less than 48 hours before the tragedy unfolded.

The quiet rural community where the couple lived was left reeling today from the horrific double shooting, which was all the more shocking as neighbours said the couple appeared 'very much in love'.

Police said they were not looking for anybody else in connection with the incident.

The shooting came just a year after Mrs Johnson beat cancer of the spine.

Close neighbour Hilda Reardon, 72, said she thought Mrs Johnson had gone on a celebration cruise with her husband this year after conquering the illness.

She said: "Andrea was very ill until fairly recently, I think she was suffering with cancer, she was practically house bound for almost two years and people didn't think she would pull through.

"Her parents would often visit in that time - she was incredibly poorly.

"Keith was always very supportive of her, you could see how desperate he was for her to get better.

"Then finally in the last year or so, I forget when exactly, her health took a turn for the better and they both went on a cruise to celebrate.

"They seemed very happy and very much in love, I never heard them argue. What ever has happened is truly tragic. I am completely in shocked."

Neighbours also reported unusually erratic behaviour from Cllr Johnson during his regular Saturday morning paper round.

The former councillor was seen making his deliveries in shorts despite the sub-zero temperatures outside.

Jean Cheesman, 72, who lived in the house behind the Johnsons, said Keith had been a "little out of sorts."

Another neighbour said Cllr Johnson had seemed "unusually down" when he spoke to him.

He said: "When I spoke to him he seemed down. He was usually a really chatty lively sort of person, but he wasn't like that."

Colleagues at North Norfolk District Council today paid tribute to Mr Johnson, describing him as a 'great loss to the whole community'.

In a statement on the council's website, Deputy Leader, Tom FitzPatrick: "It is with enormous shock and huge sadness that we have learned of the deaths of Council Leader Keith Johnson and his wife Andrea.

"Keith was a highly respected and much loved Member of North Norfolk District Council. He will be greatly missed by the Council and his death is a great loss to the whole community.

"Keith and Andrea were well known by many people in the district and our thoughts and prayers go out to both their families and close friends."

Police were called to the couple's £230,000 bungalow in the quiet Compit Hills housing estate in Roughton, near Cromer, Norfolk, on Sunday after reports of gun shots.

The two neighbouring bungalows adjacent to the house home were immediately sealed off with crime scene tape.

Homeowners were stopped from entering the area while forensic teams scoured the scene but were later allowed back to their homes.

The deaths came just hours after communitarian Cllr Johnson helped launch the local Christmas market he helped organise.

On Friday the jovial former mayor was seen at the opening of a new Waitrose supermarket in the town.

The couple, who married in 2004 after 18 years together, were said to enjoy a lively lifestyle despite Mrs Johnson's recent illness.

Neighbours said the pair could often be heard enjoying hot tub parties with friends in their garden.

They also regularly holidayed with pals and are understood to have visited the Canary Islands earlier this year.

Mrs Johnson’s Porsche Boxster was yesterday still parked on the couple’s front lawn next to Mr Johnson’s Mercedes E220 on the driveway.

Norfolk police said both deaths were thought to have died from gunshot wounds although post-mortem examinations were under way and formal identification would follow.

Detective Superintendent Peter Hornby from Norfolk Police said: "Whilst I understand this is a very shocking incident for the neighbours of the two people involved, I can reassure them that, at this stage, we are not looking for anyone else in connection with it."