A father who mistakenly believed his wife was having an affair killed her and their two “treasured” children before jumping from the cliff-top where he had proposed 17 years earlier, an inquest has heard.
Paul Newman, 42, hit Geraldine Newman over the head with a hammer before stabbing 11-year-old Shannon and six-year-old Shane at their home in Allerton Bywater, West Yorkshire, in 2016.
He left his children underneath a duvet, with religious artefacts placed on top, before travelling to Holyhead in Anglesey, where he jumped 240ft to his death from a cliff wearing only his underwear and socks.
An inquest into the deaths at Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard that the couple had reunited after Newman served a jail sentence for a two-day assault on his wife in 2013.
But the marriage was said to be “deteriorating” at the time of the incident in February 2016 and Mrs Newman had sent a text message to a family member in the weeks leading up to her death saying that she was “terrified” of her husband.
Newman’s sister Rita Farley told the inquest that her brother was not a violent man until he saw text messages from other men on his wife’s phone.
The inquest heard that Newman, at the time of his death, was due to begin therapy and counselling for anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and was on medication for back pain, which he felt was altering his behaviour.
“He was not a nasty, violent man,” Mrs Farley said.
“I’d never known that man to have an argument with anyone. He was such a kind, caring, loving man.”
The inquest was told that there was no evidence that Mrs Newman, 51, had carried out a physical affair.
Richard Smith, who was a detective sergeant with West Yorkshire Police at the time, said Mrs Newman and her children were found dead in their home on February 2 2016.
He said: “At the scene of the family home, the body of Geraldine Newman was found in the living room downstairs. She was laid on the sofa with a duvet or blanket covering her.”
He continued: “(The children) were found in the bedroom. They were covered with a duvet. They had been stabbed several times. On top of the duvet was a toy, a tiger, a statue of Jesus and two crosses.”
Coroner Kevin McLoughlin told the inquest that the family were Catholic and that rosary beads were also found on the children’s bed.
A hammer was found next to Mrs Newman on the sofa and knives were found on a bed post and under the bed in the children’s room.
Mrs Newman had suffered at least three blows to her head with the hammer, while the children had multiple stab wounds to their necks and chests.
Shane was found to have defence injuries on his right hand.
The inquest heard that Newman had left a three-page letter in the kitchen in which he used the expression “I’m sorry” but did not admit that he had killed his family.
Mr McLoughlin said: “The nature of the document is saying how much he treasured his children.”
After killing his family, Newman travelled to Holyhead.
His body was later found at the foot of South Stack cliff, where Mrs Farley said her brother had proposed to Mrs Newman on Christmas Day 17 years previously.
Paul Johnston, a retired detective chief superintendent who carried out a review into the 25 agencies who had involvement with the family in the years before their deaths, said what happened could not have been foreseen by “friends, family or professionals”.
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Mr McLoughlin concluded that Mrs Newman, Shannon and Shane were unlawfully killed and Newman took his own life.
The coroner, who described the deaths as an “enormous tragedy”, urged anyone having suicidal thoughts to seek help.
He said: “One can only lament that, had he voiced the demons in his mind, that might have precipitated some change.”
Mr McLoughlin added in his conclusion: “No-one foresaw what was to happen. There were no explicit threats that would have enabled someone to intervene to prevent this tragedy.
“We can see a relatively isolated gentleman, with some propensity to compulsive behaviour, being overwhelmed by a situation that was likely to deprive him of his children, who were so fundamentally important to him.
“Anyone probing dark thoughts or feeling overwhelmed should tell someone about the problem and seek help.”