The reasons behind why a Hemel Hempstead man killed his wife and daughter before committing suicide are still unknown following today’s inquest.
Andrew Walker, with a history of anxiety, launched into a frenzied attack on a Sunday morning last March at the family home, stabbing his wife Caroline 39 times and his daughter Katie 38 times.
Why he did that remained a mystery today when an inquest was heard into all three deaths.
The inquest heard that having stabbed the mother and daughter Mr Walker fetched a bottle of paint brush cleaner from his garden shed.
Then he poured the flammable liquid over himself and using a kitchen lighter, set himself on fire.
Neighbours raised the alarm when they saw smoke coming from a bathroom window at the front of the house in Stuart Close in Hemel Hempstead around 12.30pm on March 29 last year.
At the inquest in Hatfield the couple’s son Christopher and his partner along with a relative of Mrs Walker were the only members of the family to attend.
The couple’s other daughter Sarah wasn’t present.
The senior coroner for Hertfordshire, Geoffrey Sullivan was told Gary Walker and his wife had lived at the house for 27 years and had raised their children there.
They were a well liked family in the street and Gary was a quantity surveyor while his wife had previously worked at Waitrose.
Katie worked as a kennel assistant.
The hearing was told that the husband did suffer from bouts of anxiety from time to time that in the main were work related and often to do with presentations he had to make.
He had been prescribed medication in the past by his GP and on one occasion when the prospect of jury service had worried him.
The inquest then heard how on March 23 last year Gary Walker again contacted his GP once more with anxiety issues that had been triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
He was experiencing poor sleep.
Mr Sullivan was told that Caroline Walker had suffered from depression in the past.
The court heard that as a result of the deaths of the three a murder investigation was launched by detectives in a bid to piece together what had happened.
Detectives Constable Jason Rice who had conducted background enquiries into all three said evidence had been uncovered to show the wife had racked up debts of around £20,000 which her husband was unaware of.
The officer said the husband had been able to manage his anxiety and had in the past been given some counselling.
Coroner Mr Sullivan was told how on the morning of Sunday March 29 last year Caroline Walker briefly left her home for around five minutes to call at her neighbours who lived opposite.
She came away with £70 which neighbour Peter Downer had given her to order for him a speaker on eBay.
Caroline returned home around 10.30am and wasn’t seen alive again.
The court was told it was Mr Downer who phoned the emergency services around two hours later after smoke was spotted coming from a bathroom window.
Two fire crews reached the house minutes later and inside made the grim discoveries.
It was quickly evident nothing could be done for the husband, such was the state of his badly burnt body.
Firemen removed the bodies of the wife and daughter to outside the house where paramedics were waiting.
Both women had suffered defensive wounds and lacerations to the arms and hands indicating that they had tried to fend off the attack.
Post mortems carried out showed Mr Walker had died from the effects of the fire while his wife and daughter had died from stab wounds to the chest causing internal damage to their hearts and lungs.
Coroner Mr Sullivan said the Walkers had been an “entirely normal and pleasant family”
Over the years he said there had been no history of domestic violence in the house and their neighbours thought them to be considerate and helpful.
“He was working from home. This was causing him some anxiety but nothing out of the ordinary in the circumstances.” he said.
Mr Sullivan said even the day before the couple’s daughter Sarah hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary concerning her parents
Family, friends and work colleagues, said, had been unable to provide any explanation for what occurred that day.