Liverpool

Woman and mother unlawfully killed at Southport house

Angela Holgate, 54, and Alice Huyton, 75, were found dead at Ms Holgate's home in Southport
Image caption Angela Holgate, 54, and Alice Huyton, 75, were found dead at the house in Southport

A woman and her mother who were found dead at a house in Southport were unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Angela Holgate, 54, and Alice Huyton, 75, were found strangled at Mrs Holgate's home in Fairhaven Road on 3 December 2011.

Lodger Barry Morrow was charged with murder, but found hanged in his cell at HMP Manchester while awaiting trial.

The 52-year-old had said a Russian secret service agent was involved with the killings.

The hearing, at Southport Town Hall, was told how in police interviews Mr Morrow, originally from Burnley, Lancashire, said he found Mrs Holgate at the house hanging in an apparent suicide.

He said he removed the ligature and "cradled" her body for 48 hours until an acquaintance, a Russian citizen linked to a spy network, arrived at the house and held him hostage for several days.

He told police he had no idea how Mrs Huyton died.

'Flying experience'

Giving evidence, Det Ch Insp Alyson O'Donnell, of Merseyside Police, said the pathologist report proved that Mrs Holgate did not take her own life.

"There is no evidence of another male being at the house that week," she added.

Det Ch Insp O'Donnell said Mrs Holgate and Mr Morrow had been lovers after they met about four years ago when she was given a gift of a "flying experience" at Blackpool airport, where he worked as a co-ordinator.

A short time later the divorced father of one contacted her and they began dating.

The relationship initially ended after a "few months", Det Ch Insp O'Donnell said, because Mrs Holgate felt things were "moving too quickly".

Image caption Lodger Barry Morrow was found hanged at HMP Manchester

Shortly afterwards, Mr Morrow moved into her semi-detached house as a paying lodger.

It is believed Mrs Holgate had hoped to resume the relationship but Mr Morrow had refused and so she began considering asking him to move out.

Mrs Holgate, who worked in Tesco in Southport, had been ill shortly before her death and had not been seen out of the house for a week before she died.

Growing concerned about her daughter, Mrs Huyton, who also lived in Southport, packed an overnight bag and went to visit her on 2 December.

The following day, Mrs Huyton's husband James grew concerned that he had not heard from his wife or daughter.

'Not feasible'

His son-in-law later called at the house and found the women's bodies lying on a bed.

A Europe-wide search was later launched for Mr Morrow after it emerged Mrs Holgate's white Citroen was missing from the drive, which he had then been spotted driving in Calais.

Five days later he was arrested in the UK on suspicion of murdering both women.

Coroner Christopher Sumner said Mr Morrow's claim that Mrs Holgate took her own life was "not feasible".

He said: "Quite simply the forensic evidence doesn't support that proposition one bit."

Speaking to relatives and friends of the women, who were sitting in the public gallery, the coroner paid tribute to their "dignity during a horrendous experience".

Outside court, Mrs Huyton's son, Chris Huyton, read a statement on behalf of the family.

He said: "We wish to remain dignified with our views towards Barry Morrow, who in the end took his own life as well as the lives of Alice and Angela.

"The verdict of unlawful killing is as much as we could have expected under the circumstances.

"Alice and Angela were both very special in our lives and who we loved dearly.

"They brought much happiness to us and many others who knew them."

He added: "They will always be in our thoughts and forever missed."

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