Verdicts of unlawful killing and suicide delivered in Boschetti’s Steps inquest
A mother and her two daughters were attacked and killed by her British partner who later took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.
That was the finding of the inquest set up to establish the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the family of four in No 2 Boschetti’s Steps in March of this year.
Coroner Charles Pitto delivered verdicts of “unlawful killing” in the case of Anarda de la Caridad Perez Friman, 37, Amanda Kristofferson, a four-year old child from a previous relationship, and six week old Eve Shannon Perez.
Liverpool-born John Shannon, 31, who Mr Pitto described as “a troubled man with anger issues”, died from a self-inflicted wound to the neck two days after he had killed his partner and her children.
In delivering his verdict Mr Pitto delved into the character and background of Shannon, describing him as "a hard man, a jealous man with a black and white view of the world, even if this masked underlying doubts.”
He added that Shannon was “obsessed” with body building and was a long-term abuser of both cannabis and steroids.
"From childhood he had displayed aggressive and anti-social behaviour and attitudes,” Mr Pitto said, adding that Shannon was liable to flare up if he felt he was crossed or wronged.
Mr Pitto said this worrying behaviour continued into Shannon’s adult life.
He pointed to the testimony of Dr Adrian West, a veteran forensic psychologist who gave evidence at the inquest earlier this week, who said there were signs of an earlier possible psychotic incident and self harming.
Dr West had also described Shannon’s increasingly rapid descent into paranoia which, he said, was exacerbated by the presence of some stresses in his life.
Mr Pitto said this descent can be “graphically seen” in Shannon’s text exchanges with his relatives.
These messages detail how Shannon’s delusions intensified in the days leading up to the horrific killings.
"The significance of the WhatsApp messages was missed by the family,” the Coroner said, adding that despite their well-founded concerns they did not call the police.
There was also no successful attempt by Shannon’s family to confront his mental issues by engaging professional help.
Nonetheless, the Coroner said that Shannon’s parents were “not psychologists” and that they had made plans to bring the family to Wales.
Ms Perez Friman came across in a “very positive light”, Mr Pitto stated.
Turning to the events leading up to the deaths of the family, Mr Pitto said: “There can be only one explanation for what happened.”
The Coroner underscored that there was no third party involved in the killings. He said the front door was locked and bolted from the inside and Shannon’s blood was found next to it.
Metal shutters on the windows were also locked from the inside and a small sliding window in the utility room was secured by the use of an extension from the vacuum cleaner.
There was no sign of entry in to the flat nor was there any forensic evidence to suggest that anyone else had been inside at the time of the deaths.
Mr Pitto noted that Shannon had no defensive wounds in contrary to Amanda and her mother who both sustained cuts consistent with defensive injuries.
Further cuts to Ms Perez Friman’s face and neck “were inflicted in a controlled manner possibly in an attempt to extract information.”
This fits in with Shannon’s unfounded fears that he was being pursued by Lebanese contract killers threatening to kill him and harvest his organs.
Mr Pitto further noted that rigor mortis was absent from the three females but present in John Shannon. This would support the view that they had died some time before, Mr Pitto said.
Shannon’s final WhatsApp message to his stepfather “Done. Eject now,” at 3.15am on March 28 was consistent with the neighbours hearing a woman’s high-pitched panicked screams.
A little while later the same neighbours heard the desperate crying of a young girl but this soon stopped. They were unable to establish where the screams had come from.
The time of death of Ms Perez Friman was recorded as 3.15am. The little girls died soon after at 3.30am.
Shannon died from a wound to the neck sometime between 7.30am and 11.30am on March 30.
"He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed,” Mr Pitto said.
"The only verdict can be unlawful killing and suicide,” Mr Pitto concluded.
Mr Pitto expressed his condolences to the family members as well as his admiration and gratitude for the stoicism and dignity they had shown throughout the “unimaginably painful but necessary process” of the inquest.
Speaking at the conclusion of the inquest, Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Tunbridge said it was the “correct” verdict for the “largest murder investigation the Royal Gibraltar Police has dealt with in living memory, if not ever”.
He also expressed his condolences to all the relatives involved in this matter and thanked the UK experts as well the RGP’s investigating team.