Surrey

Farnham puppy farm murders: Inquest told police returned guns

John Lowe Image copyright Surrey Police
Image caption Dog breeder John Lowe told police officers he wanted the women put down

A man who had his guns returned to him by police despite threats to a family member, went on to shoot his partner and her daughter, an inquest heard.

John Lowe was 82 when he murdered Christine Lee, 66, and Lucy Lee, 40, at Keepers Cottage Stud, Farnham, in Surrey, in February 2014.

He was convicted of murder and jailed for life. He died in August last year.

A jury inquest into the women's deaths is examining how aware police and other agencies were of the threat Lowe posed.

Opening the hearing at Surrey Coroner's Court, coroner Richard Travers said some of the evidence would be "controversial and contradictory", but jurors would have to decide "what information [friends and family] may have given to the police and other agencies".

Image copyright Surrey Police
Image caption Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy were murdered by John Lowe

The inquest heard Christine Lee and Lowe first met in the 1980s at his puppy farm when he was married to Sue Wilson.

Ms Lee and her daughters, Lucy Lee and Stacey Banner, later moved into his home, with the girls regarding Ms Wilson as a "second mum".

The family left the property several years later, but when Ms Wilson became unwell in 2013, Ms Banner cared for her and helped run the dog-breeding business.

In June that year there was an altercation in which Lowe threatened Ms Banner with a shotgun.

His guns were subsequently removed by Surrey Police during an investigation into an allegation of threats to kill, but Mr Travers said no further action was taken and the weapons were returned.

Following Ms Banner's departure, her mother returned to Lowe's property and Lucy Lee stayed occasionally.

Image copyright Surrey Police
Image caption Lucy Lee made a frantic 999 call before she was shot dead

The jury was later played Lucy Lee's 999 call from 2014 in which she said her mother had been shot and she would be next.

Lowe was arrested, telling specialist firearms officers: "They're starving me to death. I have to beg them for money."

He later added he had needed "to put them down".

Mr Travers said to the jury: "What contact did Surrey Police have with Christina and Lucy Lee? What assessment of risk was passed to Lucy Lee?"

He told jurors they would have to consider what knowledge the police had of the domestic issues.

The inquest is expected to last for up to five weeks.

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