Lincolnshire

Spalding shootings: Man's killing of wife and daughter 'calculated'

Charlotte Hart and Claire Hart
Image caption Charlotte Hart, pictured with her mother Claire, was studying midwifery at Northampton University

A man who shot dead his wife and daughter before killing himself was "cold, calculated and scheming", a coroner said.

Lance Hart, 57, killed his wife Claire, 50, and daughter Charlotte, 19, outside the Castle Sports Complex, in Spalding, Lincolnshire, on 19 July.

He shot the pair with a single-barrel shotgun before turning it on himself.

Coroner Paul Cooper returned a verdict of unlawful killing on Charlotte and Mrs Hart and suicide on Mr Hart.

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Image caption Lance Hart worked as a delivery driver for a builders' merchants

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The inquest, at the South Lincolnshire coroner's office in Boston, was told the killings happened days after Mrs Hart had left the family home following a breakdown in the couple's marriage.

It was told that in the aftermath of the shooting, leisure centre manager Alex Marchant found the family and was told by Charlotte: "It was my dad who shot me."

It also emerged a memory stick had been found in Mr Hart's car, carrying a 12-page note of what he planned to do, in which he had written: "Revenge is a dish served cold."

'Deliberate murder'

Mr Cooper said Mr Hart "knew exactly what he was going to do".

"It was a single-barrel shotgun, so it was not a question of him just shooting his wife, he then had to unload it, put another cartridge in and shoot it again," he said.

"In my view, this was a cold, calculated, scheming man who went out and deliberately murdered his wife and daughter.

"If he had lived... he would have been charged with murder, unfortunately he didn't live to face the consequences of his actions. He took his own life."

Image caption The shooting happened close to the Castle Swimming Pool, which was sealed off in the aftermath of the killings

The coroner heard Mrs Hart, who worked in a supermarket, had moved out of her home in Moulton on 14 July.

As she was leaving a neighbour saw her loading bags into a car and was told: "He'll have a surprise when he gets home tonight. I've put up with enough for the past 15, 16 years."

Det Insp Helen Evans said Mrs Hart had confided in a colleague that "she had become worn out by Lance's behaviour".

"She had described him as being a controlling and selfish man," she said.

Mrs Hart was described as "beaming and really happy in the few days that had elapsed since leaving her husband", Det Insp Evans told the court.

On the day of the shooting, the couple met to exchange documents and photographs, the court heard.

'Virtuous and beautiful'

In a statement read out by the detective, Mr and Mrs Hart's sons, Ryan and Luke, said the shootings had made their world "a darker place".

"Charlotte and our mum were our inspiration and purpose in life," they said.

"They were the two most virtuous and beautiful people we have ever encountered.

"It is not possible to describe how unfairly and how cruelly they have been taken from us."

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