Alan Martin inquest: Husband who killed his wife in Sunderland committed suicide, coroner rules

A Sunderland man who unlawfully killed his wife then went on to commit suicide, a coroner has ruled.

Friday, 23rd August 2019, 12:12 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd August 2019, 1:35 pm

Separate inquests into their deaths have been held at the city’s coroner’s court this week, with senior coroner Derek Winter concluding that Kay, 43, – who was referred to as Kay Richardson, her maiden name at the request of her family – was unlawfully killed by her husband.

On Friday, August 23, coroner Derek Winter concluded that Mr Martin’s death was a suicide in a hearing which lasted just over 15 minutes.

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Police outside the house in Shrewsbury Crescent following the discovery of the bodies of Kay Richardson and her husband Alan Martin.
Police outside the house in Shrewsbury Crescent following the discovery of the bodies of Kay Richardson and her husband Alan Martin.

His body was found hanged at a property in Shrewsbury Crescent, Sunderland.

Detective Sergeant Katie Smith, of the force’s Homicide Major Investigations Team, gave evidence at Mr Martin’s inquest on Friday.

The hearing heard that police attended a property, which was jointly-owned by the couple, at around 9.05pm on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

The hearing into Mr Martin's death was held on Friday, August 23.

“Entry was forced to the property, and the bodies of Kay Richardson and Alan Martin were found on the first floor in the bedroom,” she said.

Inquiries were then carried out by Northumbria Police to determine further facts about the circumstances surrounding the couple’s deaths.

Kay’s inquest, which was held on Thursday, August 22, heard that she made allegations of assault and rape against her husband in the weeks leading up to her death.

Mr Martin, who worked as a brick-layer, was arrested on Saturday, September 8, 2018 but then released under his investigation.

Upon his release, police returned his set of keys to the property on Shrewsbury Crescent to him, as Mr Martin jointly owned the property therefore officers had no power to withhold the keys.

On Tuesday, September 18, Mr Martin was served with a non-molestation order, put in place to protect Kay, who worked as a carer.

The following day, she was killed.

Police inquiries established that Mr Martin had let himself in to the house with his key at around 8pm on Wednesday, September 19, and waited for his wife to return from work.

He brutally attacked Kay, hitting her with a hammer before strangling her.

Prior to the couple’s deaths, Northumbria Police had received 12 reports in relation to Mr Martin since January 2011, 10 of which were classed as domestic abuse.

Det Sgt Smith also told the inquest on Friday: “There was a known domestic abuse history between the pair.”

Speaking after Mr Martin’s death was concluded to be a suicide, Mr Winter added: “I am satisfied that Alan Martin had taken his own life and intended to do so.”

Kay’s death is to be highlighted with the Home Office in the hope of closing the gap in protection for domestic violence victims and save other lives.

Speaking following Kay’s inquest on Thursday, a Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “This case was referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) as is a matter of course when there is police contact prior to a death.

“They carried out a full investigation and found none of the officers involved had a case to answer.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of Kay Richardson who sadly lost her life in these tragic circumstances and we hope Thursday’s inquest has helped answer questions they had about the case.”