A shotgun dealer has admitted to having shot his wife as a corporate attorney, but has not been charged with murder as he has "psychosis" exacerbated by the lockdown.
Peter Hartshorne-Jones, 51, suffered “mental functioning abnormality” when he shot his wife while two children were at their Suffolk farmhouse in May.
Hartshorne-Jones had denied the murder of his wife Silke (41) at an earlier hearing, but pleaded guilty to Ipswich Crown Court for reduced responsibility.
Prosecutors ruled that his plea at a hearing on Thursday was acceptable, meaning that he will only be convicted of the lesser offense of manslaughter.
41-year-old Silke Hartshorne-Jones (pictured) was shot twice by her arms dealer husband Peter Hartshorne-Jones on the family's £ 600,000 farmhouse during the coronavirus lockdown
Hartshorne-Jones, who held a shotgun license, was warned by Judge Martyn Levett that he was facing a "long" prison sentence.
The court overheard two children in the house when he twice blew up his wife with a 12-hole shotgun in a bedroom at their 17th century Chestnut Farm in Barham, near Ipswich.
The children are said to have witnessed "the consequences" of the shooting.
Hartshorne-Jones dialed 999 within minutes of the shooting or up to an hour after the shooting at 4:45 a.m. on May 3 to report that he had shot his German-born wife.
He allegedly told the police, "I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me." He is said to have said later: "I didn't want to kill her".
Ms. Hartshorne-Jones was in critical condition and was taken by ambulance to Ipswich Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 6:40 a.m. that same day. An autopsy revealed that she had died from a shotgun wound to the chest.
At the time of her death, her husband was selling vintage shotguns for shooting game and running a recruitment agency that hired food service workers.
His website, called Hartshorne Fine English Shotguns, says he sold "the best English and Scottish sporting shotguns".
Ms. Hartshorne-Jones worked as a lawyer for the technology company K2 Partnering Solutions. In her linked-in profile, her job as responsible for the company's Europe-wide legal and compliance function was described.
Neighbors said at the time that she was commuting to work, leaving her home at 5:30 a.m. every weekday for £ 600,000 and not returning until the evening, but has been home since the lockdown began.
Forensic investigators at Chestnut Farm in Barham following the murder
Prosecutor Peter Gair said a report by counseling psychiatrist Frank Farnham, who worked for the prosecution, identified the "mental functioning abnormality" of the defendant with "psychotic symptoms" at the time of the murder.
The report by Dr. However, Farnham found "no evidence that he was legally insane at the time" or was unable to have any intention of killing his wife.
Mr Gair added, "The Crown has reviewed the evidence available, particularly the psychiatric evidence received from both the Crown and the Defense."
He said the two psychiatrists 'reports and other evidence meant Hartshorne-Jones' Defense Against Murder "was more likely to be proven than in court."
Mr Gair said, "All things considered, we stand ready to accept the plea and not start a murder trial."
He added that Ms. Hartshorne-Jones' relatives, who overheard the hearing on a video link, had been notified of the police's decision beforehand so that they would "not be surprised".
An earlier hearing was told that Hartshorne-Jones made multiple calls to health care professionals in the 42 days from March 16 to April 27, resulting in paramedics and other medical staff calling his home 29 times.
He claimed Hartshorne-Jones called because he believed he was having physical discomfort when the cause was "in whole or in part" due to his mental impairment.
The family lived on the Grade I listed Chestnut Farm in Barham near Ipswich, Suffolk
Mr. Gair said, "My understanding is that he had a long-term depressive illness that got worse over the coronavirus period."
The court heard that he refused to take any prescribed medication.
Hartshorne-Jones appeared in the dock in a gray sweatshirt and blue Umbro tracksuit, speaking only to confirm his name. He sat with his head bowed throughout the hearing.
The case was adjourned on conviction for the week beginning January 11th next year to allow further psychiatric reports on the level of "dangerousness" he posed and his intentions to kill his wife.
Mr. Gair said the use of the gun and the presence of children in the house was an aggravating factor.
The court heard that Hartshorne-Jones alleged he had no memory of the shooting.
Judge Levett said to him, "I understand that you are prepared for a sentence which, given the incident, the gun used and the presence of children, can be lengthy."
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