Woman approached police 10 days before her death

Builder Neil Langmead was served an harassment notice before alleged double murder

A BARNSTAPLE builder killed his estranged wife and her close friend just nine days after police served him with an harassment notice, a jury was told yesterday (Wednesday).

Exeter Crown Court heard how the double tragedy came just 10 days after Debbie Langmead first made contact with the police to get their help in “dealing with Neil Langmead” who was described as “controlling”.

The court heard the next day Mrs Langmead, 35, made a statement to police and a decision was taken to serve Mr Langmead with a Protection from Harassment Notice which was done the following morning on August 14.

And the worried mother also went to see a solicitor five days before a furious Mr Langmead went to a house she was renting and allegedly murdered her and her 35-year-old friend Donna St John, on August 22 last year.

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Prosecutor Michael Fitton QC told the jury that Mr Langmead was involved in an incident with his estranged wife two days before he killed her when he put his hands on the bonnet of her car and said sorry to her.

The Crown said Mrs Langmead made it clear she wanted that fact recorded “but no further action to be taken”.

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Mr Fitton said it “was not a criminal offence and there was no arrest”.

Mrs Langmead, 35, had told police that she had tried to leave five times before and that he bombarded her with constant text and phone messages of up to 30 messages a day.

She did leave her husband in July 2010 saying the marriage was over – but the 40-year-old pleaded incessantly with her to return and left her “an anxious wreck” as she told her doctor.

Mrs Langmead told police that she was scared and wanted the “contact to stop and Neil out of her life”.

She said he was a Jekyll and Hyde character who was unpredictable and would go from “nice to nasty to nice”.

She told her lawyer that he was playing mind games with her and that he “dominated and controlled her and could not cope or live with him any longer”.

The court heard the couple met in 2005 and lived together for four years before marrying in April 2009. Both had two children from previous relationships and they lived together in Convent Close, Barnstaple until the relationship broke down in July 2010. Then Mrs Langmead and her children moved out to go the rented house nearby.

The jury was told their relationship was “always difficult” with rows and domestic problems and Mrs Langmead walked out five times before the last fateful occasion.

Mr Fitton said her mother Caroline Hooper will say how Mr Langmead was “trying to control her, and she felt swamped by him”.

But when she left him, he “would call her repeatedly, promise he would change and beg her to return to him” – and each time she would give in and return.

The court was told that Mr Langmead did not physically beat her up but he was verbally aggressive and offensive to her and she found his unpredictable behaviour exhausting and felt that he would find fault with whatever she did.

When she finally did leave him, he rang her and texted her repeatedly, begging her to return because he could not accept the marriage was over.

But the jury heard that this time she told him she no longer loved him and it really was all over.

She tried to keep her new address a secret but Mr Langmead starting to follow her and her mother to find out where she was living.

He would turn up uninvited at her door and “plead, beg and cry” to be let back into her life.

Mr Fitton said: “He was trying to wear her down. What he was doing was harassing her and grinding her down.”

The court heard two days before the fatal attack, Mrs Langmead’s father Brian Hooper fixed additional security bolts at her home because she felt so insecure at Mr Langmead’s unexpected visits.

Neil Langmead denies two counts of murder and one of arson and his trial continues.

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