A mother and daughter were killed outside a Spalding sports centre out of “revenge” by a “cold, calculating and scheming man”, a coroner has concluded today.
Claire (48) and Charlotte Hart (19), who moved out of their home in Hatt Close, Moulton, to get away from their “bullying and verbally abusive” husband and father Lance Hart (57), were both shot dead with a 12-bore calibre, sawn-off shotgun outside Castle Sports Complex on Tuesday, July 19, this year.
Mr Hart then turned the gun on himself, but an inquest held at Boston Coroner’s Court heard that he was mentally stable and “not in receipt of any psychiatric input” when he carried out the shooting.
Paul Cooper, Senior Coroner for South Lincolnshire, recorded verdicts of unlawful killing on Mrs Hart and Claire before concluding that Mr Hart had committed suicide.
The inquest had statements from family, friends and work colleagues of all three victims, read out by Detective Inspector Helen Evans, of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, Major Crime Unit.
DI Evans herself said that the Harts had moved from Wisbech St Mary to Moulton in 2001 so that sons Luke (27) and Ryan (25) could both attend Spalding Grammar School.
He was cold, calculating and schemingSouth Lincolnshire senior coroner Paul Cooper
But DI Evans revealed that cracks had started to appear in the Harts’ marriage which Mrs Hart has shared with family friends Neville and Kathryn Haynes, the latter of whom was at this morning’s inquest.
“Claire Hart had become worn out by Lance Hart’s controlling and selfish behaviour,” DI Evans said.
“He would get up in the night and go through her (mobile) phone to see who Mrs Hart had called.”
A statement from Haynes said that Mrs Hart had “confided” in her about difficulties in the marriage, Mr Hart’s behaviour as being like a “bully” and the breakdown of his relationship with both Ryan and Luke.
The inquest also heard a statement from Charlotte’s boyfriend of nine months, Benjamin Griffiths, who said that Mrs Hart had wanted to leave her husband for 12 months prior to the shootings.
At the same time, Charlotte herself had become depressed because of family problems and unhappiness about her midwifery course at Northampton University which she finally left in December 2015.
The statement from Mr Griffiths said: “Charlotte’s relationship with her mum was more like that of sisters and she was protective of her.
“But Charlotte told me that her dad was controlling and had all the passwords for her mum’s bank accounts.“
DI Evans confirmed that Mrs Hart and Charlotte finally left their home in Moulton and moved into a rented property in Spalding five days before they were killed by Mr Hart.
On the day of the shootings itself, the inquest heard that Mr Hart was due to meet his wife and daughter on Tuesday, July 19 to “exchange” some items from the family’s former home and see the two dogs Mrs Hart had taken with her as pets.
But a statement from George Bakes, who was working near the sports centre when the shootings took place, said: “I heard two gunshots, within close proximity of each other, then a third gunshot.
“It was about 400 metres from the car park and I saw a figure drop to the ground.
“I came to the scene, shouting ‘someone’s been shot and needs assistance”.
Evidence from Home Office pathologist Dr Michael Biggs showed that Mrs Hart suffered fatal shotgun injuries to her chest and abdomen, Charlotte had been fatally wounded in her abdomen and Mr Hart sustained a shotgun wound to the head.
In recording his verdict, Mr Cooper said: “Where Mr Hart got the shotgun from we simply don’t know.
“But not only did he go and buy a shotgun, he sawed it off to cause maximum damage.
“This was a cold, chilling, scheming man who deliberately went out and murdered his wife and daughter.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t live to face the consequences of his actions.
“But there two of members of the family who have to live with this, day by day.
“It’s time for the family to recover and I am sure you will respect their privacy.”
THURSDAY 10.35AM: HART TRIPLE INQUEST: Moulton man’s suicide note said family conspiracy turned him into a killer
A father of three from Moulton shot his wife and daughter in cold blood before turning the gun on himself, an inquest heard this morning.
Lance Hart (57), of Hatt Close, was branded “cold, calculating and scheming” by South Lincolnshire senior coroner Paul Cooper, who recorded a verdict of unlawful killing on wife Claire (48) and daughter Charlotte (19), who died outside Castle Sports Complex in Spalding on July 19 this year.
The inquest heard evidence that Mrs Hart had left the family home five days before the deaths after telling friends that her marriage to Mr Hart had broken down.
On the day of the shootings Mr and Mrs Hart had arranged to meet to exchange some belongings from the family home, which had been sold, as well as to allow Mr Hart to see the family’s two dogs.
Mr Cooper also recorded a verdict of suicide on Mr Hart, who had written a statement blaming the rest of the family for his actions in carrying out the shootings, saying they were all conspiring against him.
In the statement Mr Hart said: “Revenge is a dish best served cold. Karma is a bitch.”
• More to come.