Puppy farm killer to be sentenced

Published: Friday 31st October 2014 by The News Editor

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An elderly dog breeder will be sentenced today for shooting his partner and her daughter dead at his puppy farm.

John Lowe, 82, was convicted on Wednesday of murdering 66-year-old Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy, 40, at his home near Farnham, Surrey, in February.

Following the jury’s guilty verdicts, Mrs Lee’s daughter, Stacey Banner, criticised Surrey Police after it emerged a number of Lowe’s guns were returned to him just months before he carried out the shootings.

The force apologised to the family after the weapons were confiscated in March last year following an allegation that threats to kill had been made, but were returned to Lowe four months later.

Speaking outside Guildford Crown Court, Ms Banner said: “John Lowe pulled the trigger but it was the Surrey Police who put the gun in his hands. Surrey Police should not be allowed to escape their responsibility for these deaths.”

Three Surrey Police employees are being investigated for gross misconduct over the decision to return Lowe’s guns before the murders.

Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Cundy said two reports indicated the decision was “flawed” and vowed to “co-operate fully” with an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation.

Lowe, who has severe arthritis in his hands, lived at Keepers Cottage Stud puppy farm for 45 years and the court heard he had been handling shotguns since the age of seven.

He met Christine Lee 25 years ago when she came to buy a horse for one of her daughters.

They later started a relationship despite him living at the stud with his long-term partner Susan Wilson. After Ms Wilson died from cancer in March 2013, he moved Christine in, with Lucy later joining them.

On February 23 this year, armed police arrived at the farm in the Surrey stockbroker belt and found Christine and Lucy dead.

The court heard that Lowe told officers the women “treated me like s***”, accusing them of starving him and trying to put him in a home so they could take his land.

He told one officer: “They had to be put down. There was nothing else I could do. I have had terrible problems with Christine. They have not let me eat.”

It was only later that he began to tell police that their deaths were accidental.

He claimed Christine died after they struggled over his shotgun when he announced he was going to put down some of their dogs. He then claimed Lucy died after the gun accidentally went off twice.

Surrey Police released audio of a dramatic 999 call made by Lucy before she was killed, in which she told the operator: ”I don’t know whether I’m going to be alive if I go back in there. He shot my mum.”

Lowe, who was found guilty of two counts of murder and a third of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, will be sentenced at Guildford Crown Court in Surrey.

Published: Friday 31st October 2014 by The News Editor

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