Millionaire dentist arrested on suspicion of killing wife 'was victim of domestic abuse'
Published 12/09/2016 | 21:57
A millionaire Harley Street dentist who was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife was the victim of domestic abuse, an inquest heard.
Stephen Nicoll, 54, was arrested over the death of his wife Helen, also a dentist, after she hanged herself in the hall of their £1.5m house in Cambridgeshire in June last year.
An inquest heard yesterday that she “physically and emotionally abused” her husband and their children.
Mrs Nicoll pushed her children to excel, especially in music, and was investigated by police over the alleged assault of her oldest daughter, Georgia, several years ago.
During furious family arguments, her children would call her “council estate scum” and “Liverpool scum”, Cambridgeshire coroners’ court heard.
The inquest also heard that the first person Mr Nicoll called after finding his wife’s body was his golfing partner to cancel their day. He then called his children.
He was arrested over his wife’s death as Cambridgeshire Police initially treated it as suspicious, and given police bail after being questioned at Parkside police station, around eight miles from the couple’s home.
He said last year that he had experienced “the worst days” of his life after a post-mortem examination found his wife had died of asphyxiation.
The inquest heard that Mrs Nicoll’s behaviour became increasingly erratic after a patient of 20 years began trying to sue her in February 2015.
Mr Nicoll said she first expressed suicidal thoughts after the complaint was lodged in February 2015, while she never slept properly after developing depression and anxiety.
She also became paranoid her husband was having an affair, which he denied.
She was prescribed antidepressants diazepam and citalopram and started to see a psychologist, while she also began to drink heavily.
“It is the single thing that caused her to go into depression, caused her to start drinking heavily and that is what led to her taking her life,” Mr Nicoll said. “If that complaint had not been made we would not be sitting here today.”
The inquest heard that on the night of her death, Mr Nicoll returned home from meeting their eldest daughter Georgia in London at around 11.30pm.
He said: “She walked up to me and said ‘you have been talking about me to Georgia’ and slapped me across the face.
“She continued slapping me across the face, sometimes she pretended to slap me and as I tried to duck she was laughing.
“I was playing golf the next day and my golf clubs were by the door. She threw them over the fence. She took my car keys so I couldn’t play golf.”
The assault continued when he went to bed, where he said Mrs Nicoll struck him with her elbow and kicked him in the face.
He said she then smashed her head on the bedside table because she “was very aware of covering her tracks and she could see that my face was marked as a result of the injury”.
He added that she later sent pictures of the marks on her forehead to the children, saying “this is what your father did to me”.
In the early hours of the morning she turned on some classical music on the radio. “My belief now is that she turned the radio on because she had decided that she was going to do something horrendous,” he said.
When he went downstairs the next morning, he found her dead.
DCI Jerry Waite led the investigation and said that despite the bruise he decided to release Mr Nicoll without charge after he found no inconsistencies in his account.
He said: "I believe that Stephen Nicoll was probably of victim of domestic violence. "
Simon Milburn, the assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire, recorded a narrative verdict. He said: “The evidence of her intent why she did that remains unclear.”
Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary said her injuries were consistent with hanging and no third-party involvement.
Anyone wishing to seek information and/ or support can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit www.samaritans.org.