A 57-YEAR-old South East Cornwall commercial fisherman stabbed his wife to death before killing himself - a day after being freed from a police cell following an earlier domestic incident, a Truro inquest heard.

Neil Harman inflicted 33 wounds on himself as he died next to his wife in the blood splattered kitchen of their home in Polperro, Cornwall, last August.

He had been arrested two days before the deaths following an allegation that he assaulted his 49-year-old wife Elaine.

He was kept in custody overnight until he was released the next day with conditions that he must not contact Elaine or go to their home.

Det Con Rachel Harris told the inquest at Cornwall Coroner’s Court that on the day of the deaths, Neil Harman spoke to his grown-up son about collecting some of his possessions from the family home and delivering them to him so he would not break his bail conditions.

Neil Harman told his son that he was running a little late but police later discovered he was already very close to Polperro after driving there in his Land Rover - and forced his way into their locked home where he attacked his wife.

Home Office pathologist Dr Deborah Cook said Harman inflicted 33 knife wounds on himself - 23 around his neck, four to his chest and six to his right hand.

She told the senior Cornwall coroner Andrew Cox that it was ‘an unusual case’ and that Harman died from blood loss from the incised wounds to his neck and chest.

Harman’s father Antony told the coroner that Elaine was a ‘lovely lady’ and they were in a ‘secure marriage’ with no domestic issues before this day.

He said his son had contacted him to say he had spent the night in police cells after an incident involving Elaine and he stayed with his parents the night before the fatal incidents.

He said Neil ‘loved his wife’ and family and did ‘everything for them’.

But he said the medication he was taking for his rheumatoid arthritis ‘made his head so bad’.

Antony Harman said:”He would not lash out but he found himself holding his hands up to the side of his head and gritting his teeth.”

He said his son felt Elaine was being secretive on her phone and hiding her phone from him.

Anthony said:”I said he should not be suspicious about Elaine’s motive for secrecy. She was not that type of person and the marriage was secure.”

He said he was in ‘complete disbelief’ and could not understand what had happened when he was told about their deaths.

One of Harman’s grown up sons from a previous marriage, also called Antony, said Elaine had hurt her arm in the alleged assault and his dad said she was ‘laying it on thick’.

He said the couple had an argument and Harman tried to give her a cuddle but she was not having any of it - and she hit her arm when she fell over as she tried to stand up.

Harman told his son:”I don’t know if there is more to it, or if someone else is involved.”

His son said:”I tried to reassure him not to think like that, that no one else was involved.

“He said he was not easy to live with and was struggling with anxiety and depression.”

Harman’s GP said he called him on the morning of the deaths but said he did not think he would kill Elaine or himself.

The GP said no mental health issues were recorded but said Harman was stressed and anxious about the recent breakdown of his relationship.

The coroner Andrew Cox said that Harman went to the family home where there was a ‘significant disagreement between Neil and Elaine and matters escalated very quickly’ and he ‘stabbed Elaine repeatedly and killed her.”

He said Harman then inflicted all the wounds to his own neck and chest and Mr Cox said in 15 years as a coroner he has never known someone self-inflict wounds to that extent.

He praised the courage of the police who raced to the scene and into the house to possibly tackle a knifeman out of control.

He said the officers found a ‘horrific scene’ and did all they could to save Elaine before paramedics arrived and took over.

Mr Cox said: “I am entirely satisfied Neil Harman has died at his own hands.”

He recorded a suicide conclusion.

An inquest will be held at a later date into Elaine Harman’s death.