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Gun dealer shot wife dead with shotgun during first national lockdown

Antique gun dealer, 52, shot solicitor wife, 42, dead with double-barrelled shotgun during first national lockdown while obsessed he had Covid after contacting medics 26 times in 42 days

  • Peter Hartshorne-Jones, 52, shot his wife Silke, 42, twice at close range last May
  • Admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility over mental health issues
  • He killed his wife after becoming obsessed he had Covid-19 in the first lockdown
  • The 52-year-old had contacted medics 26 times in 42 days with health concerns
  • The prosecution has accepted Hartshorne-Jones’ plea and he awaits sentencing 

An antique gun dealer who shot his solicitor wife dead with a double-barrelled shotgun during the first national lockdown was obsessed he had Covid-19 and had contacted medics 26 times in 42 days, a court heard.    

Peter Hartshorne-Jones, 52, blasted his wife Silke, 42, twice at close range with a double-barrelled shotgun at their Suffolk home on May 3 last year, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said Mrs Hartshorne-Jones told a neighbour in the days before her death that ‘her husband was not good at all and she was finding it difficult’.

Hartshorne-Jones had made contact with various care providers 26 times in the 42 days between March 16 and April 27, Mr Gair said.

The ‘extensive contact with various health professionals’ included the ambulance service, accident and emergency departments and private GPs, but no cause for his symptoms was found, the prosecution counsel said.

The defendant admitted at an earlier hearing to manslaughter by diminished responsibility, with the court told he was found to have been ‘suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning’. His plea was accepted by the prosecution. 

Corporate lawyer Silke Hartshorne-Jones died after being shot twice by her husband Peter at their home in Barham

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said Mrs Hartshorne-Jones told a neighbour in the days before her death that ‘her husband was not good at all and she was finding it difficult’ 

After shooting his wife, the defendant made a 999 call from his landline at 4.44am ‘asking for the police, not the ambulance service’, Mr Gair said.

‘During the course of that call he told the operator he had shot his wife, saying ’10 minutes ago’,’ the prosecutor said.

‘He added ‘I think she’s dying, actually. He went on to say he shot his wife twice in the chest, which is not far from the truth.

‘He remained on the phone while armed officers were dispatched to his address.’

Hartshorne-Jones was arrested on the driveway of his home in the village of Barham.

Police at the scene after antique gun dealer Peter Hartshorne-Jones shot dead his wife on May 3 last year during the first national lockdown

Mr Hartshorne-Jones became psychotic and shot her twice in their bedroom at Chestnut Farm

The incident took place in the village of Barham, near to the A14 motorway by Ipswich in Suffolk

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.

Mr Gair said: ‘There’s no evidence that I’ve seen from any source of any problems with the marriage until March 2020 when of course the Covid-19 pandemic reached its peak in the UK in the sense that the first lockdown was then imposed.

‘It’s then clear from the evidence that the defendant believed that he had been infected by the virus.’

Hartshorne-Jones, who ran a recruitment business and also traded in shotguns, first got a shotgun certificate in 2000 and renewed it in 2015. He also obtained a firearms dealer registration in 2010, Mr Gair said.

He said the defendant had answered ‘no’ to a question, on firearms certificate applications in 2000 and 2015, about whether he had ever received treatment for a mental health condition.

Peter Hartshorne-Jones, 51, had been worried about catching Covid last year in lockdown

Chestnut Farm, Barham, where corporate lawyer Silke Hartshorn-Jones was shot last year

Mr Gair said it has since been found that ‘there are episodes recorded in his medical notes of depression prior to the signing by him, certainly for renewal in 2015’.

Police seized eight shotguns, two rifles, two air rifles and nine stocks and barrels from the home after the killing, all of which were held in accordance with licensing requirements, Mr Gair said.

He said Hartshorne-Jones’s firearms licences are being revoked by police.

Mrs Hartshorne-Jones, a German national, qualified as a lawyer before moving to London in 2007. The couple married in 2010.

Her brother, Jens Lutschewitz, told the court it ‘nauseates’ him that Hartshorne-Jones has pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

‘It’s incomprehensible and a real mockery of the real victims in the case,’ he said.

The sentencing hearing will continue on Thursday.

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