A jealous husband used a hammer to bludgeon his wife to death then hanged himself after wrongly suspecting she was cheating on him, an inquest heard.
Rikki Lander, 26, was strangled to death by her husband Paul, 30, in front of their three terrified children. The couple had only married in February 2017.
Mrs Lander was found in the living room of her home in Oldbury, West Midlands, while her husband was discovered dead in the hallway on August 5.
Neighbours revealed how the pair’s eight year old daughter raised the alarm when she fled in her pyjamas screaming: ‘My mummy is dead’.
The newlywed couple were found dead at their home in Oldbury, West Midlands, at around 2.20pm on August 5, Black Country Coroner’s Court was told
Police found the body of Mrs Lander, a building society administration worker, in the lounge with head injuries while her husband was found hanged in the hallway
Black Country Coroner Mr Zafar Siddique said a text message was the ‘trigger’ for Mr Lander’s ‘violent outburst’, however, there was no evidence of an affair.
He ruled Mrs Lander was unlawfully killed and Mr Lander’s death was suicide.
Mr Siddique said it was a ‘tragic set of circumstances’.
He said: ‘It seems the trigger was a text message. Rightly or wrongly Mr Lander thought his wife was having an affair.
‘There was no evidence to substantiate she was having an affair.’
A post-mortem examination found Mrs Lander had been struck two to three times with a hammer and had also died of strangulation at her home in Oldbury, West Midlands
Post-mortem tests revealed Mrs Lander’s cause of death was head injury and pressure to the neck.
Mr Lander, 30, a tipper truck driver, died as a result of hanging.
The night before the killing, self-confessed ‘jealous control freak’ Mr Lander, a haulage boss, had discovered a text on his wife’s phone.
Detective Sergeant Inderjit Basra told the inquest that in a witness statement, Mr Lander’s brother Blake said he had been at the couple’s home the previous night.
He said Blake Lander told police Mrs Lander, who was on maternity leave at the time of her death, received a text message which his brother later asked him to read.
‘He read one message saying ‘can you meet me’. Rikki’s reply was ‘I will when he’s asleep’,’ Det Sgt Basra told the court.
Blake left the house shortly afterwards but woke up the next morning to a message from his brother which read ‘I have hit Rikki with a hammer’.
Det Sgt Basra said police went through mobile phone data and found no evidence Mrs Lander was in contact with anyone other than friends and family prior to her death.
The detective said police found letters written by Mr Lander describing his love for his wife and saying he was depressed.
The inquest was told how a text message on Mrs Lander’s phone had acted as a ‘trigger’ which led to the brutal attack
Speaking at the time of her death, Mrs Lander’s mother Sharon Cobain said: ‘Rikki was the perfect daughter and my best friend.
‘She was born to be a mum and was the best there is.
‘She could light up a room with her infectious smile. She loved to dance and sing especially with the children. We are lost for words.’