Surrey

Farnham murder accused John Lowe: Deaths 'a terrible accident'

John Lowe
Image caption Dog breeder John Lowe denies two counts of murder and a firearms charge

A man accused of shooting dead his partner and her daughter has told a court their deaths were "a terrible accident".

John Lowe, 83, denies murdering Christine Lee, 66, and Lucy Lee, 40, at his dog breeding farm in February.

The jury heard Mr Lowe had planned to kill one of his guard dogs that "hated intensely" Lucy, who was responsible for feeding them.

He told Guildford Crown Court Christine grabbed the gun and it went off.

The jury heard that when the defendant had taken the shotgun - which he used to shoot rats - from his gun cabinet he intended to kill four dogs.

'So stupid'

He explained the dog that hated Lucy was "beautiful" and "lovely with me".

"I kept putting [killing] it off," he said. "[But] Christine said you better shoot that guard dog or it's going to kill Lucy."

Using a walking stick, Mr Lowe demonstrated how he had walked into the house in Tilford, near Farnham, Surrey, with the gun under his arm.

He said: "I've got bad arthritis. It was a ludicrous way to hold the gun. I never remember doing anything so stupid in my life."

Mr Lowe said both women "flew up to the door".

"[Lucy] was screaming in horror and the top of her voice, 'What are you doing with the gun?," he said.

"Christine said 'Give me the bloody gun', or something like that.

"The gun was facing her. She grabbed hold of the gun and held the gun.

"As soon as she grabbed it the gun went off. I couldn't believe it.

"I was thinking, 'Christ, I didn't pull the trigger'. Because she pulled the gun, it pulled my finger against the trigger."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The court has been told police officers were met with a "scene of carnage"

Asked by defence barrister Ian Lawrie QC whether he intended to pull the trigger, Mr Lowe replied: "Of course not.

"She went straight down to the ground. You could see she was stone dead.

"It's the worst thing that's happened to me in my life."

Mr Lowe said he was "worried" for Lucy after he fired the weapon and as he turned towards her on the settee, the gun went off again.

"It must have been the flimsy, stupid way I was holding the gun," he said.

'Suicide attempt failed'

At that moment, he said Lucy ran into the kitchen and he thought she had not been injured.

Mr Lowe then said he reloaded the gun with the intention of shooting his dogs.

Going into the kitchen, he saw Lucy lying on a step with a coat over her, when "the bloody gun went off again", the jury was told.

"My hand must have touched the trigger and it went off," he said.

He told the court he then decided to shoot the four dogs, and kill himself.

After shooting the dogs, he said he put the shotgun under his jumper but when he pulled the trigger twice "it just clicked", because both chambers were empty.

"I killed them but I didn't murder them," he said.

"It was a terrible accident and it was all my fault."

The trial continues.

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