OAP who shot partner and her daughter had guns returned by police

A pensioner who shot dead his partner and her daughter on his puppy farm had his guns returned to him by police despite threatening another family member the previous year, an inquest has heard.

Lowe murdered his partner Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy in 2014.

John Lowe was 82 when he murdered Christine Lee, 66, and Lucy Lee, 40, at Keepers Cottage Stud, Farnham in Surrey, in February 2014.

He was convicted of murder later that year and jailed for life with a minimum of 25 years. He has since died in prison.

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An inquest into the deaths of the two women opened at Surrey Coroner's Court on Thursday, and is examining how aware police and other agencies were of the threat Lowe posed.

Lucy Lee was murdered along with her mother by John Lowe in 2014.

Coroner Richard Travers told the jury: "Some of the evidence you will hear is controversial and contradictory because the accounts of friends and family do differ, and on the whole you will not have to resolve these differences or decide precisely where the truth lies."

He said jurors' task would be to decide "what information (friends and family) may have given to the police and other agencies".

The court heard Christine Lee and Lowe first met in the 1980s after she had left her abusive husband and moved with her children to Surrey, and visited his property to buy a puppy.

Despite the fact he was married to a woman named Sue Wilson, Ms Lee and her daughters, Lucy and Stacey Banner, later moved to the property and lived with Lowe and Ms Wilson.

Christine Lee who was murdered by her partner John Lowe in 2014.

The jury was told the girls came to regard Ms Wilson as a "second mum".

Lowe and Ms Lee's relationship ended several years later and she and her family left the property, but in 2013, when Ms Wilson was unwell, Ms Banner returned to the property to care for her and help run the dog-breeding business.

Following an altercation in June 2013, the court heard Lowe threatened Ms Banner with a shotgun.

Mr Travers said: "A series of significant events followed.

"(Ms Banner) telephoned the police and told them he had pointed a shotgun at her and said he would kill her if she ever returned.

"Surrey Police attended Keepers Cottage, they removed John Lowe's shotguns and undertook an investigation into an allegation of threats to kill.

"Mr Lowe denied threatening to kill Ms Banner and she made a statement saying she did not support John Lowe's prosecution.

"No further action was taken and in July 2013 Surrey Police made the decision that John Lowe's shotguns could be returned to him."

Following Ms Banner's departure, her mother returned to the property to care for Lowe and the animals, while Lucy Lee also stayed on the property at times.

The jury was played Lucy Lee's harrowing 999 call in which she told the operator her mother had been shot.

In the recording she says: "I'm running for my life. He's just shot my mum. John Lowe."

After giving her address several times she says: "He's going to shoot me," adding: "I doubt if I'm going to be alive if I go back in there."

The court heard that after his arrest by specialist firearms officers, Lowe told them: "They're starving me to death. I have to beg them for money."

He later said: "This must look terrible to outsiders, what's happened, but I assure you nothing else could be done."

He added while he was in custody that he had needed "to put them down".

Lowe also said: "A lot of things will go in my favour about how they acted, but you can't get past the fact I shot them," and: "If they hadn't gone all f****** mental at me I wouldn't have pulled the trigger."

Mr Travers said to the jury: "What contact did Surrey Police have with Christina and Lucy Lee? What assessment of risk was passed to Lucy Lee?"

He told the jurors they would have to consider what knowledge the police had of the domestic issues at Keepers Cottage.