Shropshire

Oswestry florist beat wife and daughter to death

A florist beat his wife and daughter to death with a rubber mallet before hanging himself amid fears he would lose a big customer, an inquest heard.

Hugh McFall, 48, of Oswestry, Shropshire, was found hanged on 5 February, hours after wife Susan, 55, and Francesca, 18, were found dead.

An inquest heard how he left a note by his body saying "I hope I rot in hell".

Coroner John Ellery recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for Mrs McFall and her daughter and suicide for Mr McFall.

The inquest at Shrewsbury Magistrates' Court heard how Mr McFall had been facing accusations of invoice discrepancies.

He had been called for a meeting with the owners of Stans Superstore in St Martins the day before his death.

The supermarket, which made up about 95% of Mr McFall's business, had said it was suspending its trade with him.

'World collapsed'

Mr McFall was found hanged four hours after the bodies of his wife and daughter were discovered at the family home.

The self-employed flower salesman was facing accusations of invoice discrepancies from his main customer - which had suspended his contract - and feared a police investigation into his accounts.

Coroner John Ellery, coroner for mid and north Shropshire, said: "His financial world had collapsed, his source of business income or at least 90 to 95% of it, had disappeared in a moment.

"Their lifestyle, as he knew it, would be over."

A note was found near Mr McFall's body in his industrial lock-up, the inquest heard.

'Rot in hell'

Det Supt Niall Parker told Shrewsbury Magistrates' Court the handwritten note read: "My world, Frankie and Susan, just ended, I love them so much, nobody can understand.

"Part of me wants to stay alive just so I can keep thinking about them. The pain is too much."

Referring to Mrs McFall's children from a previous marriage, the note continued: "What I have to done Dan and Nick is beyond belief.

"It is all over now, I hope I rot in hell."

Business associates told the hearing that Mr McFall had considered himself "finished" after a meeting about alleged invoice discrepancies the day before his death.

Supermarket officials had summoned him to their premises to confront him over their suspicions he may have been overpaid by more than £500,000 over seven years.

Second note

West Mercia Police said the case would probably not have ended up in court but an investigation would have been started if the owners of Stans Superstore had taken their concerns to police.

The inquest heard on Wednesday that Mrs McFall and her daughter were found on a bed in the master bedroom of the Hampton Road home covered in a "considerable amount of blood".

Dr Alexander Kolar, a Home Office pathologist, told the court the women had injuries consistent with having been struck by a rubber mallet which was recovered from the scene.

The coroner said he concluded that Mrs McFall had died first, from one blow to the head as she lay in her bed. He said Francesca sustained at least five impacts to her head while in her bedroom.

The court heard that Mr McFall also left a note next to his daughter's body.

The coroner said Mr McFall's fears about his sexual health may have been "going through his mind" when he killed his family, as well as his business worries and concerns over his "social standing".

The inquest heard Mr and Mrs McFall and Francesca tested negative for HIV after blood samples were taken following their deaths.

A recording of a 30-second 999 call was played to the court in which Mr McFall was heard saying: "Please get to my house at 40 Hampton Road in Oswestry. I've just killed my wife and daughter. I love them so much."

A statement on behalf of the family, read by West Mercia police liaison officer Lyn Downes, said: "We are so deeply, deeply sad over what happened to a happy, loving family and we continue to struggle to understand the circumstances."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites