Barnstaple builder ‘killed wife and friend’

Court hears how ‘controlling’ Neil Langmead stabbed women to death in a frenzied knife attack

A “controlling and dominating” builder viciously stabbed to death his estranged wife and her close friend, a jury was told yesterday (Wednesday).

It was alleged that Neil Langmead murdered Debbie Langmead and Donna St John in a frenzied knife attack before setting fire to Mrs Langmead’s home.

Prosecutor Michael Fitton QC told a jury at Exeter Crown Court that Mr Langmead murdered the women at Ford Mead Close in Barnstaple, in the early hours of August 22 last year.

The prosecutor said: “Each woman had been repeatedly cut and stabbed and was killed by those stab wounds.

“It was Neil Langmead we say that stabbed each of these two women. Their stab wounds, and their deaths, were the sole responsibility of this man Neil Langmead.

“This is a case where we say that there is no other person responsible in any way for causing either of the deaths.

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“There is no possible lawful reason or excuse for what he did. He did so deliberately and in anger.

“He killed them both in the kitchen of Debbie Langmead’s home in the early hours of the morning on August 22nd 2010.”

He did not call for help and contact neighbours and five hours after the murders a passing motorist spotted smoke coming from the house which he had locked, Mr Fitton said.

Firemen broke in and found the dead women side by side in the kitchen and Mr Langmead unconscious under a loft hatch with a rope hanging down.

Mr Fitton said Mr Langmead wanted to control Mrs Langmead outside the relationship adding: “He killed her out of frustration and anger he could no longer control her once she left him.”

He said the tragedy for Donna St John was that she was in the wrong house at the crucial time and could not have known what was going to happen.

Langmead, 40, of Convent Close, Barnstaple, denies arson and two counts of murder.

Mr Fitton said: “His case is that Debbie and Donna had a fierce row, that Debbie attacked her friend Donna with a kitchen knife and Debbie caused the stab wounds that killed Donna.”

Mr Langmead claimed he was acting in self defence and “if he caused wounds or stabbed Debbie, he did so to protect himself and Donna”.

“He will say that Debbie brought her own death upon herself by launching a murderous attack on Donna.”

Mr Fitton said Langmead tried to blame Debbie for “everything that happened”.

But the prosecutor asked why he did not make any 999 calls for help for the women after the 3am attack because the landline was working as was his mobile which was used to make calls at 5.19am the same morning.

The case continues.

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