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Husband killed wife after gypsy camp battle : Ledbury


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By Bill Gardner, and Nicola Harley

6:30PM BST 13 Aug 2014

 

A retired company director who was “devoted†to his terminally-ill wife shot her dead and killed himself after battling to stop a gypsy camp being built next to their picturesque home.

 

John Knott, 71, is believed to have used his own shotgun to kill Anne Knott, 70, who had Alzheimers, when the stress of caring for his wife while fighting the travellers' plans became "just too much for him".

 

After family members raised the alarm at 10:20am on Monday, police entered the house to find the bodies of the couple lying alongside the weapon, each with a single gunshot wound.

 

Mr Knott had spent recent months struggling to stop plans to allow the travellers to move permanently onto a field next to the £500,000 cottage near Bosbury, Herefordshire, that he shared with his wife.

 

The camp was initially granted permission for two families, but a fresh application was made two months ago to allow a further eight more families to move onto the field.

 

The couple’s next door neighbour, who helped Mr Knott draft objections to the plans, said the stress of caring for his sick wife while struggling against the plans may have caused him to "snap".

 

She said: “It was terrible. John spent every single day trying to think of ways to stop this happening, and it caused him a lot of stress. It was all he thought about.

 

“It was a huge source of trouble for him, and Anne hated the idea too, although she was very ill.

 

“He found it very difficult to accept, and he couldn’t get his head around why the council would even consider allowing this to happen.

 

“It got worse and worse, and he was getting more and more agitated. With all that was going on at home with Anne, it all got too much for him.â€

 

Neighbours yesterday expressed their shock at the deaths and described the couple, who organised and took part in village fundraising events, as "pillars of the community."

 

One woman, who said she had been in contact with the couple every day in the weeks before their deaths, said: “They were absolutely lovely. They were sweet, devoted to each other, and very much in love. It’s an absolute tragedy.

 

“He was lovely, a very clever guy. He was still full of beans and had so much to give. I knew he was very stressed about the travellers, but I could never have believed that this would happen.â€

 

Mr Knott and his wife paid nearly £500,000 for their Bosbury home in 2006, after he retired from his role as managing director of Birmingham-based Ashford Construction Plc.

 

However, another of the couple's neighbours said they had recently been informed that £100,000 would be wiped off the value of the cottage if the gypsies were allowed to move in next door.

 

The neighbour said: “He and Anne loved that house, and they had worked their whole lives for it, so he couldn't bear to see it ruined.

 

“It was terrible for him. He spent every day battling this application, and he thought he was getting nowhere.

 

“He was very upset about the whole thing. He never stopped talking about it. It all just built up and up.â€

 

The original plans were to allow the travellers to camp in the front part of a field next to the couple’s cottage, nearer a main road.

 

But Mr Knott told neighbours that at a recent planning meeting, one councillor had suggested the camp be moved away from the road and nearer the cottage, so people did not have to see the caravans as they were driving into the village.

 

Six weeks before the couple's deaths, Mr Knott wrote a letter to the planning inspector at Herefordshire Council begging them not to allow the larger camp to go ahead.

 

He wrote: "There are at least eight settled (gypsy) families within a one mile radius of the proposed site. The area cannot sustain any more."

 

West Mercia Police are treating the deaths as a possible murder-suicide and are not looking for anyone else involved in the incident.

 

A spokeswoman said: "Police attended an address at Bosbury, Herefordshire at 10.20am on Monday following the concerns of the occupants family.

 

"Police unfortunately found both elderly occupants, a man and a woman, at the property deceased. There is an ongoing investigation as to the cause of their deaths."

 

The Telegraph

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Herefordshire Council Planning Application

 

Proposed change of use of land from agriculture to a one family travellers site, with stationing of one static mobile home, two touring caravans, new access, ablution block and septic tank.

 

18 representations ... 

 

One representation from John Knott available as a pdf file ...  on that link 

 

Forge Cottage 

Pow Srcen 
Bosbury 
Herefordshire 
HRS IJ 
 
4-Jul-14 
Carl Brace BSc (Hons), M/\, MRTPI 
Senior Planning Officer 
Herefordshire Council, 
Blueschool House, Blue School Street, 
Hereford, HRl ZZB 
Dear Mr Brace, 
Planning application number P141538/F 
I write to advise of my objections to the above planning application for the reasons listed below. 
• The site was purchased only last September 2013 and prior to that was rented by a 
farmer Green Senior who I understand had a long standing rental of the fields for sheep 
and hay. Mr. Roger Toon who inherited the small holding will confirm. There has never 
been an historic use of this land by the applicants as suggested. The land was once 
owned by Bosbury house and was then transferred to Roger Toon's uncle who rented the 
land out to local farmers to graze sheep. He was the mechanic up at Bosbury house and 
purchased the land using overtime wages saved over time so no doubt this can be 
confirmed! 
• It is accepted that the applicants have a well-established extended family within the 
parish of Bosbury. This in itself supports the fact that there are already 2 traveler 
sites situated within a 1 mile radius of the proposed site, one of which is a 7 caravan 
site. We are aware that the Herefordshire Council policy must allow for a certain 
number of settled traveler sites. There are at least 8 settled families within a 1 mile 
radius of the proposed site, the area cannot sustain anymore. There is only 1 small 
school, 1 pub and no permanent shop. The village shop in Cradley having closed some 
12months ago. The Butchers in Cradley is open for limited hours. Bosbury cannot sustain 
another permanent traveler site. The family would need to be travelling to Ledbury, 
Hereford or perhaps Malvern which is not in accordance with policy put forward by the 
Council. 
• It is of interest that the other 2 settled traveler sites are located on quiet roads and 
do not impinge on the beauty of the surrounding area as they are largely hidden when 
viewed from the road. This proposed site is exactly the opposite. The proposed location 
of the site in the front field would leave only 40 meters between the boundary of the 
site and the perimeter of the field which is directly on the road. The way the land lies would mean that there would be a clear and close view of the caravans and site from the 
road. The suggested land levels in the application are incorrect. It would not matter how 
many trees/hedges were planted this would still be the case. At the moment the B4220 
presents a drive through endless fields and unspoiled countryside. The road is dotted 
with historical properties (most of which are listed). There is absolutely no place for a 
caravan site in this area, especially when it would be in clear view from the road. All of 
the residents and the public would suffer loss of visual amenity if this application were 
to be granted. 
The Pow Green area is I understand a conservation area in which many listed properties 
are situated. The proposed application would not be in keeping with the conservation of 
the properties and their surrounding areas; it would have a huge adverse visual impact on 
the surrounding area. 
The location of the proposed site in relation to the highway is dangerous. Even if the 
entrance was moved as suggested in the proposed plans, the entrance would still be too 
close to a blind and dangerous corner. Of further concern is that in the 70/80's the 
Highway's recognized the dangerous nature of the road bends and made a CPO 
acquisition of the land around the corners of the double bends. Unfortunately this was 
never implemented. It is our case that the road study report is understating the 
serious problem of large articulated Lorries, buses, tractors and trailers which at 
harvest time exceeded all reasonable safety around the bends. A number of cars leave 
the road into the field opposite the site and neighboring farm field. Most of these of an 
evening /night and are quickly removed the next day only leaving a demolished gate/ 
hedge behind. The additional traffic entering the proposed site will add to the existing 
danger on that point of the road. 
The measurements detailed on the planning applications are troublingly incorrect. Each 
measurement is at least 20 meters more than in real terms. Based upon the 
measurements used on the planning application drawings the acreage of the field 
amounts to approx. 2.11 acres, in actual fact the acreage of the field is 1.27 acres. The 
immediate result of this is that on the planning drawings the proposed site appears to be 
a lot further from the road than it will actually be, this is simply not the case. The 
proposed accommodation will be very close to the road and clearly visible. This will 
undoubtedly have an adverse and damaging effect on the visual impact of the 
surrounding area. The hand sketched layout of the site is to no recognizable scale and 
misleading in proportion. 
Of huge concern is the proposed drainage and soak away for the proposed site and 
septic tank. The surrounding land drains down from the land at the north east, through 
the fields into the ponds in the wooded area behind the fields. The field regular floods 
into the garden of Forge cottage and also into the garden of Pow Green farm (see 
photos enclosed) only emphasize the lack of the land in this area to absorb water during 
prolonged and heavy rain fall. We understand that the furrow across the field was 
installed many years ago to create a catchment to channel water into the field corner 
adjacent to Forge cottage (cottage circa 1700) prior to the water mains being installed. 
This was the only means of water thus allowing filtration in to the sump pit outside of 
the kitchen of Forge cottage. Clearly if the drainage were to be as set out in the 
proposed plans then grey water and effluent would be flowing into the surrounding 
properties, into the natural drainage routes and into the ponds in the wood which are home to many breeds of wildlife and must be preserved. This is dangerous to human 
health and to the surrounding nature that has to date flourished in this area. 
It is of further concern that it within the application there is a suggestion of a future 
increase in the family unit implying that perhaps a second or third static home will be 
required in the future. This is most strongly objected to for the above given reasons 
 
Yours faithfully, 
John R Knott 

 

 

 

I saved the objection in case it disappeared from the link ... 

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How terribly sad. Poor people. On a lighter note, it seems as though a Police Investigation, a Coroner and a Jury Inquest are now no longer required thanks to The Telegraph. I ain't so sure this 'piece' of investigative journalism is an entirely good thing for anybody concerned in this sad and tragic tale.

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Agreed I read the online version of the DM and felt quite concerned that it had been published.  It is tragic enough for the family friends and indeed the police and other services who attended the incident without having this story published.  Despite my own feelings about HC and the Planning Dept I feel a certain amount of sympathy for them on this.  They are going to have handle this very carefully.  

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An absolutely tragic outcome, for this couple who were so devoted to each other.

 

My thoughts are with the family and friends, who must be struggling to come to terms with this horrendous chain of events.

 

Life is so very precious. They must have felt incredibly desperate.

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They must have felt incredibly desperate.

 

The topiary (in the picture) shows the property was very cared for ... I would be crawling up the walls if I had a similar situation confront me . I would not condemn John Knott for his actions ... His behaviour (based on what I've read) seems to suggest he was reaching for a resolution to the intolerable situation they were in. RIP is all I can say ... 

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  • 1 month later...
Monday 6 October 2014 in Hereford Times News by Mike Pryce

 
THE country cottage near Ledbury, where a couple were found shot dead in August, has been put up for sale.
 
Forge Cottage at Pow Green, between Bosbury and Cradley, had been the home of retired company director John Knott, aged 71, and his 70-years-old wife Elizabeth, known as Anne, who died in what is believed to have been a murder- suicide or suicide pact. They moved to the pretty red brick cottage several years ago from Droitwich and lavished care and attention on the property, which is being marketed with a guide price of £435,000.
 
Estate agent Andrew Grant said: "I was approached by the executors of Mr and Mrs Knott and received instructions to place this very attractive country property on the market. We hope that everyone will respect the privacy of the family in what are obviously very difficult times. The cottage has been wonderfully maintained and care for and could be lived in and enjoyed straight away. The gardens have been beautifully landscaped and provide views across open fields and beyond."
 
Forge Cottage, which is around 300 years old, has two double bedrooms, a sitting room with an elegant Georgian working fireplace, a snug with a log burner, a large breakfast kitchen and a garden room.
 
The bodies of both Mr Knott and his wife, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, were found by police following a call from concerned relatives on Monday, August 11. No-one else is being sought in connection with their deaths. An inquest was opened at Hereford Town Hall on August 18 and adjourned to a later date.
 
No mention in the article about the travellers' site next to their house and lack of council concern.
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Business as usual.

 

6.15 The site does not immediately adjoin any third party properties and furthermore there is no 
objection from the Environmental Health Manager on the issue of potential noise or nuisance. 
The proposal therefore is considered to have no significant impact on existing residential 
amenity.
 
I suppose that it depends on what criteria one considers, but personal mental health isn't one of them.
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