Inquest records that elderly couple were ‘unlawfully killed’

Dennis and Sheila Jefferson in August 2010
Dennis and Sheila Jefferson in August 2010
The Co-op store where the incident took place

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An elderly couple were brutally and unlawfully killed at their home an inquest concluded.

Dennis and Sheila Jefferson, 76 and 73, were found dead at their bungalow in Maybush Drive, Chidham after firefighters were called to a blaze on Saturday February 6, the inquest in Worthing heard.

The sole suspect, Mrs Jefferson’s brother-in-law Norman Williams, 70, died from severe burns, damage to his airways and surgical complications in hospital three days later.

A post mortem concluded Dennis Jefferson died from stab wounds to his neck, while his wife died from blunt force trauma with 17 injuries to her face. Both died before the fire started and had been shot in the face with an air rifle.

CCTV footage half an hour before the fire was reported showed Mr Williams, of Caernarvon Road, Chichester, buying petrol at Sainsbury’s in Chichester and appearing to fill a container in the boot of the car, police officers told the court.

Mr Williams was severely burned in the vapour cloud from the fire, before driving to a friend’s house. Witness Shirley Gray described Mr Williams as so injured he was unrecognisable.

Paramedics were called and Mr Williams was taken to hospital in East Grinstead, where he remained critical until his death during an emergency operation three days later. A following inquest into the death of Mr Williams concluded a verdict of ‘misadventure’.

Coroner Penelope Schofield recorded a verdict that Dennis and Sheila Jefferson were brutally killed in their own home, adding that both killings were unlawful.

She closed by commending the families for their dignity.