Doncaster man 'shot wife and daughter in family home before turning gun on himself'

A man shot dead his wife and 12-year-old daughter in their family home before turning the gun on himself, an inquest heard.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 2:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 12:02 pm

Steven Jones, who grew up in Doncaster before moving to the US, carried out the horrific attack after emailing his parents back home to say he had 'wandered down the wrong path'.

Doncaster Coroner's Court today heard how the 46-year-old engineer was found dead by police at his home in Ballston Spa, New York, days before Christmas last year.

His body was discovered on the living room floor, beside the gun, with a gunshot wound to the chest on December 14, 2018.

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His wife Jennifer, an occupational therapist, and their daughter Emma were found in their bedrooms upstairs with multiple gunshot wounds.

A heartbreaking email, addressed to his parents and sent the day before the grim discovery, was read out in court.

In it, he wrote: "I do this to protect Emma. It's taken me 18 years but I realise I've wandered down the wrong path with the wrong person and been manipulated for too long.

"I can't bear the thought of this happening to a special 12-year-old. I feel that if I don't intervene she will be left to the wolves all alone.

"You were wonderful parents and none of this is your fault or could have been prevented.

"I'm sorry to have produced such chaos but hopefully there are good memories too.

"I remember many happy times during our visits. You always made us feel welcome and loved.

"Please focus on the good times. There very many truly good times. I do this to protect Emma."

The court heard how Mr Jones was born in Doncaster, where he was adopted by Rita and Roy Jones, of Bessacarr, and went to school in Armthorpe.

He worked for the family engineering firm before studying at the University of Liverpool, from where he graduated with a first class honours degree in engineering.

He moved to America in his 20s and it was there he met his US-born wife.

A statement from PC Katie Baines, of South Yorkshire Police, revealed how Mr Jones' parents told police they spoke to their only son once or twice a week and he would visit every summer with his wife and daughter.

They described him as a 'family man' with a good job and said they had not been aware of any financial or marital difficulties.

Mr Jones' father told police his son had not seemed his 'usual chirpy self' when he called a few days before his death.

Yet on December 12, Mr Jones had called his parents and told them he and Jennifer were both well and Emma had been to tennis coaching.

Just days after news of the tragedy was broken to them, the court heard, his parents received a Christmas card and calendar from their son, with several photos of the family looking happy together.

PC Baines said in her statement that police in America had found no suspicious circumstances and were treating the tragedy as a double-murder and suicide.

New York State Police said in a report shared with her that they had attended the house that day after being called by Mr Jones’ employers, who were concerned he had not appeared for work.

After forcing entry, they found Mr Jones downstairs, with a 12-gauge shotgun by his side, and his wife and daughter upstairs, where the walls and floors were covered in blood and there were numerous spent shells.

Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a conclusion of suicide.

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