Death of woman remains mystery

THE death of a woman found hanging at her home remains unexplained after her boyfriend was found hanging at the same spot just four days later. The couple, who had lived together for two years, were found dead amid claims of a suicide pact, an inquest hea

THE death of a woman found hanging at her home remains unexplained after her boyfriend was found hanging at the same spot just four days later.

The couple, who had lived together for two years, were found dead amid claims of a suicide pact, an inquest heard.

Karren Allison Racher, 34, from Waveney Road, St Ives, was found dead at her home on Saturday, December 17, last year.

Boyfriend Clive Paul Smith, 29, of the same address, was found hanging over the stairs on December 21, in a similar position to where Ms Racher had been found.


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An inquest in Huntingdon on Thursday heard that Mr Smith had claimed there had been a suicide pact between the two of them.

A police investigation was carried out but there was no evidence to confirm Ms Racher's death had been assisted by Mr Smith.

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However, coroner Dr Colin Lattimore recorded an open verdict on the death of Ms Racher, saying there was insufficient evidence to decide on suicide, accidental death, or unlawful killing.

Mr Smith's death was recorded as suicide while suffering from depression.

In a statement read to the court, Ms Racher's mother Margaret Plummer, who lives opposite the couple's home in Waveney Road, said her daughter had seemed all right when she spoke to her just two hours before she was found dead.

She said her daughter, the mother of an eight year old, had been an "outgoing and lovely person".

But she added when she met Mr Smith, she took a downturn and the couple would drink together and then argue.

She said she had spoken to her daughter and she sounded fine, a bit drunk but all right. Two hours later, at 8.15pm, Mr Smith rushed over the road to Mrs Plummer saying "call an ambulance - you have to get over here."

Mrs Plummer found her daughter lying across the hallway. Mr Smith had cut her down from the banister and was trying heart massage.

She tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but said she knew her daughter was already dead.

Ms Racher's brother-in-law Mark Nelson told the inquest Mr Smith had claimed there had been a suicide pact.

Mr Smith's father Roger, from Great Yarmouth, also told the inquest his son had told him that he and Ms Racher had discussed suicide.

He said his son had phoned him late on the evening of December 17, saying he had found Ms Racher dead.

"He was upset and tearful and when I saw him on the Sunday he was very tired and distraught.

"He was very keen to comfort Karren's daughter.

"He said he and Karen had discussed suicide. I asked him if he was still thinking like that and told him not to do anything silly.

"He said he would not because he had to be there for the child."

Mr Smith senior said he had tried to phone his son several times on December 21, and then phoned Mrs Plummer to raise the alarm.

Mr Nelson went to the house and found Clive Smith dead.

Mr Nelson, from St Ives, said: "When I went into the house it was in darkness and the television, DVD, and fire were all on, and I expected to find him drunk on the couch."

Dr Donald Bermingham, a consultant psychiatrist at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership, said in a statement Mr Smith had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Dr Bermingham added: "He was an aggressive person with persistent anxiety, difficulty sleeping and outbursts of paranoia."

"He also heard voices in his head. He had a mixed personality disorder. In his teens and his 20s, he was a multiple drug and alcohol abuser, and people who do that often find they suffer from flashbacks and paranoia when they stop."

Dr Bermingham said Mr Smith had told him he had been seeking help for a lomg time. "He said 'what do I have to do to get help - kill somebody?'

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