Judge to sentence man who shot dead wife on Monday

A police cordon in place at the scene, in Barham. Silke Hartshorne-Jones (inset) Picture: SARAH LUC

Peter Hartshorne-Jones will be sentenced on Monday at Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk gun dealer who shot his wife at their Suffolk home during a “perfect storm“ caused by the coronavirus pandemic, his mental state and his obsession with his physical health will be sentenced on Monday (October 18).

Judge Martyn Levett has spent the last three days hearing impact statements from the family of 42-year-old Silke Hartishorne-Jones and listening to evidence from psychiatrists about her husband Peter’s mental state at the time of the shooting and the risk of him committing further violent offences in the future.

Hartshorne-Jones, who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, will now be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday.

The court has heard that the 52-year-old shot his solicitor wife twice at close range with a double-barrelled shotgun at their home, in Barham, on May 3 last year after his mental health worsened during the first coronavirus lockdown.

A sentencing hearing has heard that in the weeks before the killing Hartshorne-Jones  had repeatedly made contact with various care providers but no cause for his symptoms was found.

After the shooting, he made a 999 call to police at 4.44am and remained on the phone while armed officers were dispatched to the address.

His wife, who sustained wounds to her left upper arm and chest and was found on her bedroom floor, went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead in hospital at 6.42am.

Most Read

Hartshorne-Jones, who ran a recruitment business and traded in shotguns, obtained a shotgun certificate in 2000. It was renewed in 2015 and he also obtained a firearms dealer registration in 2010, the court heard.

Peter Gair, prosecuting,  said Hartshorne-Jones had answered 'no' to questions on applications in 2000 and 2015 about whether he had ever received treatment for a mental health condition.

Mr Gair said episodes of depression had since been found recorded on medical notes prior to the renewal in 2015.

Police seized eight shotguns, two rifles, two air rifles and nine stocks and barrels from the home.

Giving evidence on Friday (October 15)  consultant forensic psychiatrist Frank Farnham said the shooting had happened during a “perfect storm” caused by Hartshorne-Jones’ obsession with his physical health, his mental state and the coronavirus pandemic.

The court heard that prior to the shooting Hartshorne-Jones thought he was dying from coronavirus and had contacted medical services on 26 occasions in 42 days only to be told there was nothing wrong with him. 

Dr Farnham said that Hartshorne-Jones’ use of cocaine in 1996 would have had “very little” effect on the depression and psychotic symptoms he was suffering from last year.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter