A police officer who bludgeoned his wife and two of their children to death had warned her on their wedding anniversary "there is no divorce – the only way out is death".
Yesterday, the Kent coroner, Roger Hatch, recorded verdicts of suicide on Constable Karl Bluestone and unlawful killing on his wife, Jill, and sons Henry, aged three, and Chandler, 18 months.
The inquest heard the haunting testimony of one of his two surviving children, six-year-old Jessica, who fled from the house and told a neighbour: "Daddy banged my head on the wooden floor, I cannot get mummy out of my mind. She had blood coming out of her neck. I don't want daddy to kill mummy."
The first officers to arrive at the family home in Kent discovered Mrs Bluestone's body on the kitchen floor, 13 hammer wounds to the back of her head and an injury to the neck from the claw end of the weapon. The blood-covered hammer lay beside her.
The couple's three-year-old son, Henry – in his pyjamas like the other children – was found dead at the bottom of the hallway stairs with 10 wounds to his head. Injuries to his hands showed that he had tried to fend his father off. Chandler was lying in a cot in a bedroom. He had suffered six fatal blows to his forehead and died later in hospital. Jack, aged seven, was found in the foetal position on the bottom bunk in his room, injured but alive.
Moving into the garage at the back of the house, the police found Karl Bluestone, 36, hanging from a rope.
There were several marks on his arms, indicating that his wife put up a desperate fight for her life.
The inquest at Gravesend County Court, Kent, was told that Bluestone attacked his family on 28 August this year after his 31-year-old wife told him she was leaving and taking the children with her.
A "fun-loving professional" to his colleagues, Bluestone had been a violent husband, known to have had affairs with other women. He kicked Jill in the stomach when she was pregnant, once threatened her with a meat cleaver and smashed the back windscreen of her Mercedes on another occasion.
In June he had throttled his wife until she lost consciousness. She told a friend later that he said: "There is no divorce – the only way out is death".
In the days leading up to the final, fatal attack, Bluestone had become increasingly irate, believing his wife was having an affair and recording her telephone calls.
Mrs Bluestone made it clear to her husband on 25 August that she was leaving, the inquest was told.
On the day of the murders PC Bluestone returned to their home in Gravesend after a drink with colleagues and began an argument by saying, "I heard about you today".
Pausing long enough to watch the ITV police drama The Bill, he resumed the row which turned violent.
Bluestone's next-door neighbour, Ernest Lane, told the hearing that a "terrified" looking Jessica had appeared at his door.
He said: "I saw a child knocking frantically on the glass door and saw that it was Jessica Bluestone from next door. She said: 'My daddy is hitting my mummy. Please call the police'."
The girl told paramedics: "Daddy smashed my head against the wooden floor. Mummy and Daddy had been rowing and he had hit her over the head and she had a hammer in her head."
She then said she had heard her brother Jack scream, and added: "He [Bluestone] hit mummy on the head and that is why mummy and daddy are asleep and will not wake up."
Detective Chief Inspector Colin Murray told the inquest: "The marriage became strained after Chandler's birth and later on she discovered [he was having] an affair at work and confronted the officer over the phone. She also suspected he spent Christmas with another woman."
Mrs Bluestone's sister-in-law, Caroline Skerry, said that when Jill discovered her husband's infidelity, she started an affair of her own. Bluestone spoke of moving the family to Basildon, but his wife, an accountant with the Essex County Council, dismissed the idea.
Det Ch Insp Murray said: "It is my belief, having killed his wife and two children, Karl then took his own life. The evidence suggests the rope was purchased earlier that same day and whilst this may have been for moving it's also possible that Karl was contemplating suicide."
The coroner said Bluestone had realised his marriage was finally over. "Whilst it cannot explain the tragedy, it perhaps gives an insight into Karl Bluestone's mind on 28 August," he said.
In a statement, Mrs Bluestone's brother, Peter Skerry, and her sister-in-law, Caroline, said: "Jill was a wonderful mother who lived for her children. Jill, Henry and Chandler will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with Jill's surviving children."Reuse content