Cheadle killer Karen Climpson, 46, had a long history of depression
IN January the usually quiet Moorlands town of Cheadle was rocked by a horrific incident which left two people dead.
Karen Climpson had inexplicably stabbed her long-term partner Mark Chandler to death before slitting her own neck at their Cheadle home.
Yesterday's inquest heard how Karen had a long history of mental illness, and had attempted to take her own life.
The 46-year-old had been prescribed anti-depressants, and while they often appeared to work, her symptoms always returned.
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Karen's mother Barbara Hodgkinson told the inquest that her separation from Karen's father had caused her difficulties.
She said: "She had a bubbly personality and was very friendly. But she'd had a number of failed relationships. She never really trusted anybody."
In 1993 Karen started her relationship with Mark. Karen had a daughter, Sophie, from a previous relationship, but Mark helped raise her. Four years later the couple hit a rocky patch, leading to Mark leaving temporarily, which resulted in Karen's first suicide attempt.
Mrs Hodgkinson described how she had gone shopping with her daughter in Hanley, but had to leave Karen in her car when she told her she was not feeling up to it. When Mrs Hodgkinson returned Karen had disappeared, leaving a suicide note. After reporting what had happened to the police, Mrs Hodgkinson received a phone call from a friend of her daughter's, who told her that Karen had taken an overdose at her house.
Mrs Hodgkinson said her daughter was full of remorse following the incident: "She told me that after taking her overdose she saw Sophie, in her classroom. She'd last seen her through the classroom window. She ran to her friend, who had called 999. She just said she was sorry. She just felt she couldn't live with how she was feeling."
Karen's second suicide attempt came a few years later, when her mother was visiting her home.
She jumped out of a bedroom window, and Mrs Hodgkinson, who was in the garden below, only just succeeded in breaking her fall.
Following this incident, Karen was prescribed more anti-depressants, and while her condition would continue to fluctuate from year to year, by Christmas 2011 her family had no reason to believe she was getting worse.
Mark, a mechanic, had health problems of his own, having undergone life-saving liver and kidney transplants during his 42 years.
Relatives told the inquest how Karen and Mark had helped each other get through their very different problems over the course of their relationship.
Karen and Mark appeared to have an enjoyable final Christmas, seeing friends and family, although Karen had cancelled some get-togethers.
But her family did not think anything was particularly wrong until January 2, when neither responded to phone calls.
Mrs Hodgkinson and her son Paul Climpson visited the couple's home in Ness Grove, Cheadle, and discovered the gruesome scene.
Mark, who was found sprawled halfway down the stairs, had suffered up to 90 stab wounds, some inflicted with a knife, others with a pair of scissors. The injuries were all over Mark's body, and included some defensive wounds on his hands and arms, and others apparently inflicted after his death.
But a post-mortem revealed that only one injury was definitely fatal, a stab wound to the neck which severed a major blood vessel.
Karen was found slumped against the bathroom wall, with a number of cuts to her chest and neck.
These were found to be self-inflicted with a razor blade.
A neighbour had reported seeing Karen come home in her car at around 9.25pm on January 1.
The incident probably began in the bathroom, before spilling out onto the landing, and resulted in Mark falling down the stairs.
Karen went downstairs and continued her assault, before walking to the kitchen, leaving a trail of bloody footprints.
Karen then went back upstairs to the bathroom, where she took her own life.
Det Sgt Nick Powell told the inquest that the police had been able to rule out any third party involvement in either death. But he admitted that police had been unable to locate the murder weapons, with Mark's mobile phone and laptop also missing from the house.
Mrs Hodgkinson expressed concerns over the way her daughter had been treated by the mental health services over the years, questioning why she had never been detained.
But Karen's GP Dr Christine Craven said: "Having known Karen for 15 years, there was no way I could have predicted this at all."
Following the inquest, Mark's mother Eileen Chandler said: "Mark had amazing care from the NHS. We were very grateful for the life he was able to live.
"Mark and Karen both knew that we were always there for them."