‘Controlling’ husband repeatedly stabbed his wife of 26 years then torched the car she was in and drowned himself in a lake, inquest told
- John Cowley stabbed his wife Alison before drowning himself, an inquest heard
- The businessman was described as controlling and manipulative by Mrs Cowley
- John Cowley was found in a lake at the family home in Lancashire with injuries
- A coroner recorded a verdict of suicide, ruling that he drowned himself
A ‘controlling’ husband stabbed his wife repeatedly and torched the car she was in before drowning himself in a lake at their family home, an inquest was told.
Police had been hunting for John Cowley, 63, for eight days before he was pulled from the water at one of the three lakes in the grounds of Woodvale, Mawdesley, in Lancashire.
While John’s wife Alison Cowley was waiting for her daughter and sitting in her car outside the old marital home on October 10 2018, John approached and stabbed her before trying to light the vehicle on fire with petrol and a blow torch, a coroner said.
At an inquest into Cowley’s death at Preston Coroner’s Court, area coroner James Newman described the attack on Mrs Cowley. Reading from a statement from Mrs Cowley, he said: ‘John had a look on his face she had often seen before.
While John’s wife Alison Cowley (left) was waiting for her daughter and sitting in her car outside the old marital home on October 10 2018, John (right) approached and stabbed her before trying to light the vehicle on fire with petrol and a blow torch, a coroner said
Police released footage of a blazing car while hunting for the businessman following the altercation
‘She described it as cold and menacing.’
Handwritten notes found at the extensive equestrian property in Mawdesley showed John Cowley’s plans to change his will prior to taking his own life.
Alison Cowley, a teaching assistant, said her husband was controlling and manipulative throughout their 26 year marriage and said he had threatened violence – although he had never been physically abusive.
On August 15 2018 she had reported threatening behaviour to the police, and officers had removed his firearms licence – although he was not charged with any offence.
In October, Mrs Cowley reported her car had been stolen from outside her home, and contacted her husband, as he had bought her the vehicle and had keys.
In a statement to the court, Alison Cowley said her husband would play mind games throughout their marriage (pictured: The fire-damaged road on Moody Lane,Mawdsley)
The coroner said: ‘On the phone, John Cowley said he would kill himself and if he caught Alison with anybody else, he would kill her.
‘He had made similar threats before and she was scared of him.’
In a statement to the court, Alison Cowley said her husband would play mind games throughout their marriage.
She said: ‘He was very unpredictable at home and in company and he had no regard for authority – especially the police.
‘He often thought he was better than everyone else and was never in the wrong. He lacked empathy for other people.’
A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Alison Armer found Cowley’s cause of death to be drowning.
He had a number of self inflicted injuries, but these would not have been sufficient to bring about his death, the court heard.
A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Alison Armer found Cowley’s cause of death to be drowning (pictured: Cowley captured on CCTV, released by police during the investigation)
Cowley was found wearing the same clothes he wore during the the attack on his wife and had a serious, self-inflicted wound to his neck.
Police found there was no evidence of any third party involvement in Mr Cowley’s death and the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.
He said: ‘On the evidence before me, John Cowley is reported as a manipulative and controlling gentleman whose wife had become scared of him and unhappy in their marriage.
‘She had managed to break that cycle of an abusive relationship.
‘John Cowley had not sought any treatment for any significant mental health issues and his last consultation related to difficulty sleeping, some weeks before the incident.
‘On October 10, whilst waiting for her daughter, Mrs Cowley was sitting in her car outside the old marital home, when John Cowley approached and subsequently stabbed her a number of times.
‘He then proceeded to try and ignite the vehicle, using a petrol can and a blow torch.
‘Thankfully Mrs Cowley was able to be recovered from the vehicle and despite serious injuries was able to be discharged from hospital five days after her admission.
‘Following the disappearance of John Cowley, Lancashire Constabulary launched a high risk missing person investigation which was hampered by lack of specific information, and it wasn’t until eight days later that John Cowley was found.
‘In the property were identified a number of documents contesting the changing of his will.
‘There is no evidence that any other party was involved in the death.’
A post mortem found the cause of Mr Cowley’s death to be drowning and the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.
He said: ‘It is my hope that his wife makes a full recovery from the premeditated assault he conducted on her.’