Birmingham & Black Country

Shot Derrick Vassell's ex-partner Clare Sly killed herself

Clare Sly and Derrick Vassell
Image caption Clare Sly and Derrick Vassell were found dead in Walsall last June

A woman killed herself shortly after her violent ex-partner was shot dead, an inquest has heard.

Clare Sly, 39, and Derrick Vassell, 43, were found dead in Laneside Gardens, Walsall, on 8 June last year.

The hearing at Smethwick Council House heard Mr Vassell had been abusive throughout their 25-year relationship.

Black Country coroner Robin Balmain ruled Ms Sly took her own life while Mr Vassell was shot "in the course of a domestic incident".

He said there was not sufficient evidence to rule that Mr Vassell was shot by Ms Sly herself.

The hearing was told that Mr Vassell was shot in the chest and head before Ms Sly shot herself in the chest.

Mr Vassell and Ms Sly, who had three children, separated at the end of 2010.

The inquest heard their eldest son Anthony told police how his father had been violent towards his mother since they had first met.

Before the pair's deaths Mr Vassell had waited outside Ms Sly's home for at least 13 hours and had repeatedly banged the door to be let in, the hearing was told.

Sawn-off shotgun

Over that time, he bombarded her with more than 160 text messages, which the coroner described as "sinister" and "threatening". Mr Vassell later entered the house.

The hearing was told how Anthony had been in the kitchen, when he heard a gunshot and came out to see his father's body lying in the hall, before hearing a second shot.

Image caption Ambulance crews were called to Laneside Gardens in the Birchills area of Walsall in the early hours

He described how he saw a sawn-off shotgun in his mother's hand, before she told him, "I've got to do it to myself", the inquest heard.

He told police how he pleaded with his mother to stop before going to get help, but his mother shot herself shortly afterwards.

Mr Balmain said the case had been a tragedy for both families.

He added that Ms Sly had been under the control of her former partner and that she had lived in fear of him.

Two people - a 23-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman - were initially arrested over the deaths but later released without charge.

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