Murder suspect had a ‘Jekyll and Hyde personality’

Family solicitor tells jury that Barnstaple builder was ‘unpredictable’

A BARNSTAPLE builder accused of murdering his estranged wife and her friend has been described by a lawyer as having a “Jekyll and Hyde” character.

Family solicitor Sadie Coombes gave evidence in the trial of Neil Langmead who denies cutting and stabbing his wife Debbie Langmead and her friend Donna St John.

Miss Coombes was acting for Debbie Langmead in her divorce petition in the days before her murder.

Yesterday (Friday) she told a jury at Exeter Crown Court that she had sent Mr Langmead, 40, a letter “refraining any direct contact” with her and to stop bombarding her with phone calls and text messages.


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Asked about Mr Langmead’s personality, Miss Coombes said: “He was unpredictable – a Jekyll and Hyde personality.”

She said if the Langmead’s had a row, his eyes would change and the “red mist would come down”.

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After her murder, a letter was found in Debbie Langmead’s handbag outlining her fears and desire to get divorced and wanting him to “leave me alone”. She said she had reached “rock bottom” and could not “cope with his mind games”.

In cross examination, Miss Coombes confirmed an harassment order had been served on Mr Langmead eight days before the women were stabbed to death in the early hours of August 22 last year.

Miss Coombes said she had not sought a non molestation order which could have seen Mr Langmead locked up if he broke it.

The solicitor said: “Debbie said there had not been any violence.”

Mr Langmead claims that his wife stabbed her friend Donna, 35, to death before dying in a struggle as he tried to protect himself and Donna.

The jury has been told that he interfered with the clothing and bodies of the dead woman before torching the rented house and making a failed attempt to hang himself from the loft hatch.

A friend of the Langmeads, Rachel Phillips, told the court that the defendant would react badly if the family home was not “spotless and immaculate”.

Neil Langmead, of Convent Close, Barnstaple, denies two counts of murder and arson and his trial continues.

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