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UK- Wife entered suicide pact with her rapist husband

4-12-2007 United Kingdom:

A besotted wife entered into a suicide pact with her husband when he confessed he was a rapist as a police investigation closed in on him, an inquest heard yesterday.

Christine Downes, 51, drove with her husband Christopher, 54, to a chalk pit near Andover in Hampshire on 9 October last year and they gassed themselves.

Just days earlier Mr Downes, who had served jail terms for attacking prostitutes, had provided a DNA swab for police investigating two rapes and an aggravated burglary in Salisbury, in 1984 and 1985.

The inquest heard from Detective Inspector Sean Memory that Mr Downes had been on the periphery of the inquiry in the 1980s because of "odd behaviour" but when the case featured on Crimewatch, his name again came up in a call.

Mr Downes, a driver, initially refused to give his DNA. But DI Memory persuaded him to give a sample in October in relation only to the Salisbury rapes.

After the couple's deaths, the DNA swab was fast-tracked. DI Memory said the sample matched a semen stain found at the rape in December 1984.

Mrs Downes brother, Charles March, told the inquest that his sister was "besotted" with her husband, whom she married in 1986.

"Christine's whole life was Christopher. I do not believe she would have survived without Christopher. If Christopher had gone back to prison she would not have been able to cope," Mr March explained. ..News Source.. by Martin Halfpenny

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