Elderly couple found killed battered to death

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A QUIET COUPLE in their seventies, Joan and Martin Lawrie, were found battered to death in their village home early yesterday.

Police have refused to comment on mounting speculation that the deaths had been a murder and suicide.

"At this stage we just don't know what has happened," said a spokesman for Thames Valley Police. "We have not had the post mortems so we cannot comment. We are treating both deaths as suspicious."

Mr Lawrie was in his back garden, apparently having fallen or been thrown from an upstairs window. He had head injuries. Mrs Lawrie was in a downstairs living-room. She had severe head blows and injuries on her neck, possibly caused by a knife or saw. A claw hammer was found.

A neighbour in Freeland, near Witney, Oxfordshire, had seen Mr Lawrie lying in the garden and called the emergency services, thinking he had collapsed. Paramedics discovered Mrs Lawrie. Police have sealed off the pounds 130,000 house, in Church View, for forensic science examination.

Mrs Lawrie taught at the local Church of England primary school before retiring 10 years ago. Both were members of the Methodist church. Mr Lawrie was a retired construction worker.

George Williams, who lives opposite, said he had known the couple since they moved to the village 35 years ago.

"They were a well established part of the village. The village is devastated," he said. "They were lovely to chat to. They were nice and good people. The last time I saw Martin was on Thursday."

Paul Harding, landlord of The Oxfordshire Yeoman, said: "Nothing like this has ever happened before around here. This kind of thing will shatter Freeland."

At the Methodist churchabout 20 villagers gathered for a special service. The Rev Stainer Smith told the congregation: "Martin and Joan were such lovely, wonderful people who gave their life to God."

Comments