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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Suicide father massacred family
Mochrie family
The family at Catherine Mochrie's university graduation
A father with suicidal tendencies battered to death his wife and four children before hanging himself, and inquest has been told.

Cardiff and Vale Dr Lawrence Addicott recorded a verdict that 45-year-old businessman Robert Mochrie unlawfully killed his family at their home in Barry, near Cardiff, last summer.

forensic teams
The bodies were discovered 12 days later

A consultant psychiatrist told the hearing that Mr Mochrie had suicidal and severe depressive tendencies for up to 10 years, faced financial problems and had been visiting a prostitute.

On Wednesday, the court heard that Mrs Mochrie - sister of former Welsh rugby international and British Lion Terry Holmes - had had an affair with her husband's former business partner.

South Wales Police launched an investigation in July last year when officers discovered the bodies of 45-year-old Catherine Mochrie, and children Bethan, 10, Luke, 14, Sian, 16, and 18-year-old James, at their 250,000 home.

The discovery shocked the seaside town community who regarded Mr Mochrie as a "devoted family man".

Extra-marital affair

But Dr Brian Harris said that it was his opinion that he was "deluded" at the time and felt "the only way out" would be through the deaths of his family.

While Mr Mochrie - who underwent treatment in 1990 and 1993 - may have given the impression that all was well, Dr Harris added that his mental state could have deteriorated quickly.

Mrs Mochrie - who had graduated at the University of Wales as a mature student - was a full-time mother. On the surface, there appeared to be few cracks in their marriage.

Pembroke House Hotel
Pembroke House Hotel closed after a fire

In reality, the couple's mortgage was in arrears and they owed more than 200,000.

On Wednesday, the inquest heard that the 45-year-old had been conducting an extra-marital affair with a business associate of her husband David Osbourne.

"He (Robert Mochrie) never indicated that he knew about the relationship," he said, adding that the affair had finished five months before the deaths.

Mr Osbourne, also of Barry, had been manager of one of Mr Mochrie's ill-fated business ventures at the Pembroke House Hotel in Haverfordwest, west Wales.

Just months after he failed to sell the hotel through an auction, the building was damaged by a kitchen fire in January 1999.

The street where Mochries lived
The Mochries lived in a quiet suburb

Mr Mochrie was awaiting an insurance pay-out.

But it also emerged that Mrs Mochrie had struck up a friendship Paul Wyatt after the two met in a pub.

He told the coroner that they had played squash together and met for coffee.

The inquest was told that she no longer had a physical relationship with her husband who had been visiting a prostitute once a week for 18 months.

Detective Inspector Paul Bethell said in the aftermath of the deaths, it had emerged that he had been visiting Charmaine Jacobs.

"As with lots of her clients he said there were problems within his marriage and he did not have sex with his wife any more," Mr Bethell added.

Terry Holmes
Mrs Mochrie's brother: Rugby star Terry Holmes

The bodies were eventually discovered 12 days after when a friend of Mrs Mochrie's became suspicious.

Noticing that post was building up inside the house, Debbie Zeraschi used a ladder to climb up to an upstairs window where one of the children could be seen lying dead in bed.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing on Catherine Mochrie and her four children, Cardiff and Vale coroner, Dr Lawrence Addicott said he believed husband Robert Mochrie had killed himself.

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See also:

24 Jul 00 | Wales
Family of six found dead
04 Aug 00 | Wales
Burial for massacred family
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