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Prison officer hangs himself after strangling wife – inquest

A prison officer strangled his wife and then killed himself a day after they returned from holiday, an inquest has heard.

Robert Holden, 44, used a belt to choke wife Nicola, 40, in the master bedroom of their semi-detached bungalow in Morecambe, Lancashire, England and then hanged himself.

The couple had "significant" marital difficulties and had planned to separate but it was thought their week-long trip to Mexico was a bid to patch up their problems.

The mother of Mr Holden, who worked at Lancaster Farms Young Offenders Institute, rang the police after discovering her son's body in front of the kitchen door of the address in Low Lane, Torrisholme, on March 4 this year.

Initially police were only aware of Mr Holden's body before they found Mrs Holden lying lifeless on the bed.

Giving evidence to their inquests at Preston Coroner's Court, senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Neil Esseen said there was no sign of a struggle and a note was left in the kitchen in Mr Holden's handwriting in which he admitted killing his wife and then committing suicide.

His inquiries found the couple's relationship problems had led to "volatile encounters" between the pair.

"Mr and Mrs Holden had significant marital difficulties and both had minor mental issues," he said. "There were plans to separate.

"They had returned from holiday the day before. There was some indication that this was an attempt at a reconciliation but some accounts varied as to how strong that attempt was."

A post-mortem showed Mr Holden died from hanging, while the cause of death for Mrs Holden - a machinist at Halton-based sewing firm Lancastle International - was strangulation by ligature.

Deputy coroner Simon Jones said: "I record that Nicola Holden was unlawfully killed and I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Robert Holden took his own life.

"I offer my genuine sympathies."

The couple's teenage son attended the brief hearing as did a small number of relatives.