Inquest hears of murder-suicide tragedy

Nicola Langtree (right) with dad Jim and sister Alicia
Nicola Langtree (right) with dad Jim and sister Alicia
  • Mark Langtree believed wife was having an affair
  • Began ‘stalking’ her and checking phone and emails
  • Nicola Langtree began divorce proceedings against husband
  • Couple were living separate lives but living under same roof
  • Mark’s body was found hanging from banister, his wife had been strangled upstairs

A JEALOUS husband strangled his wife with a flex before hanging himself - just two days before she planned to leave him, an inquest heard.

Businessman Mark Langtree, 38, made internet searches on his laptop into “murder-suicide” hours before killing Nicola and then himself after struggling to cope with the breakdown of their 11-year marriage.

Mark Langtree

Mark Langtree

An inquest at Bolton Crown Court heard Mr Langtree believed his wife was having an affair and so he began “stalking” her by hanging around outside her place of work and checking her phone and emails for messages.

But when she began divorce proceedings against him, and made plans to move out of their luxury marital home with their two children, he killed her before taking his own life.

The inquest heard Mr Langtree’s body was found suspended from the stairs on November 13 last year at the couple’s detached four-bedroom home in Woodlands Park Close, Wigan, where they had lived for around 10 years.

Mrs Langtree, 34, was found during a police search of their home on the floor of an upstairs bedroom.

My greatest sympathies remain with two children who must now live with not having lost just one parent but with two parents

Rachel Griffin - assistant coroner

She had been strangled with an electrical cable and a post-mortem on her body revealed bruising to her jaw, chest and upper arms, indicating she was involved in a struggle.

Mrs Langtree’s father James Byrne told the inquest that the couple’s marriage started to break down around six months before their deaths.

“Both Mark and Nicola were living separate lives,” said Mr Byrne.

“They were living under the same roof but were sleeping in separate bedrooms for the sake of the children.

“Their relationship started to deteriorate and Mark started to do petty things that annoyed Nicola.

“While she was working he started stalking her and started waiting outside for her and taking photos.

“He had read something on her phone saying ‘shall we have a coffee?’ and from there it was just one thing after another.

“He started checking her phone and emails and just didn’t trust her for some obscure reason.

“She was very close to me and her mother and she would have told us if anything was untoward.”

Mr Byrne told the inquest that Mr Langtree became uninterested in his children.

He said: “I know he had a high pressure job but he would come home from work and not even say hello.

“He would just drop his case and wouldn’t even give Nicola a kiss on the cheek.

“He was playing mind games for the last three months.”

But matters in the couple’s marriage escalated when Mrs Langtree sent her husband a solicitor’s letter, starting divorce proceedings against him.

The inquest heard Mr Langtree decided to ignore letters sent to him and “give things another go”.

But as Mrs Langtree made plans to move into rented accommodation with her children, he began to turn their children against her, leaving his wife anxious and requiring anti-depressants.

Mr Byrne told Bolton Coroner’s Court that his daughter believed she had been drugged just weeks before her death after drinking a glass of wine which tasted “metallic” before passing out and waking up naked on the floor.

In the month before his death, Mr Langtree appeared to try and take his own life and was found by his wife in a room above their garage with an Ikea bag, cans of beer and some pills.

Mr Langtree’s father told the inquest he believed this was a “cry for help” and the project manager began to get help from community mental health services.

Just days before Nicola was due to move her children out of the family home, the children went to stay with their grandparents, which the inquest heard was “usual” for a Wednesday night.

On her way home from work as a project manager for Royal Sun Alliance, Nicola called her father and told him she was planning on asking her husband for a “quickie divorce” to help end the marriage amicably and not disrupt the children.

But that was the last contact she made with family or friends and she returned home, where she was later murdered.

John Langtree told the inquest that on the morning of November 13, he went to the couple’s home after not getting a response from Mr or Mrs Langtree’s mobile phones.

When he arrived he noticed both of their cars were parked in the driveway, leading him to think they had both overslept.

But when he let himself into the front door, he discovered his son’s body hanging from the stairs, suspended by a rope.

Det Ins Andrew Naysmith from Greater Manchester Police told the inquest that he attended the scene.

He said: “The address was secure when we attended.

“Mark was hanging from the bannister and Nicola was on the floor of the upstairs bedroom. Both were clearly deceased.

“In our minds we had discovered a murder suicide which had no third-party involvement.

“There was some items found on the laptop belonging to Mark. Between 4pm and 4.15pm on 12th November 2014, searches had been undertaken regarding murder and suicide.”

A post-mortem examination on Mr Langtree’s body revealed he died of hanging.

He was also found to have ligature marks between his thumb and finger - consistent with the same ligature used to kill his wife.

Giving evidence to the inquest, Mr Langtree’s father said: “I would like to apologise for the actions of Mark and we are truly sorry.

“I know it’s an awful thing that has happened but deep down he was a good man.”

Both Mr and Mrs Langtree were listed as directors of Langtree Property Services in Huddersfield, West Yorks., and Mr Langtree wasalso given on the Company Directors website as a director of Langtree International and Langtree Woodlands Park of Ashton-in-Makerfield, Gtr Mancs.

He was listed on LinkedIn as having worked with high profile names including Barclays and Lloyds Banking, Heinz, and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Assistant Coroner for Manchester West Rachel Griffin recorded a verdict of pressure to the neck for Mrs Langtree and hanging for Mr Langtree.

She said: “Sadly I am unable to say what happened after 7pm on 12th November 2014, but I accept the evidence that has been given to me today.

“I offer my sympathies and condolences to both families for the loss of a daughter and the loss of a son.

“What occurred on and between the 12th November and the 13th November can only be described as a tragedy of extreme proportion.

“My greatest sympathies however remain with two children who must now live with not having lost just one parent but with two parents.

“Quite clearly to Nicola and Mark, those children were the centre of their lives.”