A COUPLE and their family dog were found dead on the day bailiffs came to evict them after a failed business venture.

John and Angela Richardson were found with gunshot wounds to their chests in the woodlands near their Goring Heath home on June 8 last year, a coroner’s court heard.

A full inquest into the couple’s death yesterday (January 18) heard that Mr Richardson, a motor journalist best known as Clive, and Mrs Richardson, a former company director, were found deceased by police at 10.50am after an enforcement officer and the landowner came to evict them.

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The couple had failed to pay their £4,500 per month rent at the Bensgrove Farm property after struggling with financial difficulties.

In part, this was due to a failed business venture by the couple which started in 2010. The pair, who had been married since 1986, decided to take over a space transport company.

Spaceflight Academy Ltd aimed to provide commercial Spaceflight training as well as ‘adventure experiences’ to the public.

The pair were looking for a £75 million investment for the company which never came. They managed to obtain an £84,000 investment, a government loan of £21,000 and Mr Richardson, 74, took £45,000 from his pension.

At the time of their deaths, the couple were expecting a £75,000 loan but were struggling to obtain a guarantor.

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A family member of Mr Richardson told the inquest that the writer claimed he was ‘asset rich and cash poor’ and had faced financial difficulties frequently throughout his life.

In 2017, the couple moved in with a family member of Mrs Richardson, 64, for 19 months due to facing a previous eviction.

During this time, it was alleged that Mr Richardson said he if he ever had to live in social housing, he ‘would commit suicide’.

A few days before their deaths, Mrs Richardson told a family member that she was ‘desperate’ and had ‘no plans or future’.

She said she had ‘no energy to keep fighting’ and that they had ‘come to the end of the road’.

On the day the couple were due to be evicted, the landowner found a note pinned to an inner glass door which read: “We’re in the woods. Sorry it came to this. Phone the police.”

Two other notes were also found individually signed by each person.

A post-mortem report for the couple concluded both died from a gunshot wound to the chest. A pathologist couldn’t conclude whether one person had shot the other and then themselves or if they individuals shot themselves.

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It also couldn’t be concluded in which order the couple and the dog were shot.

Mr Richardson owned the shotgun and a licence legally for his sports shooting.

Assistant coroner Nicholas Graham concluded their deaths were a suicide.

The Samaritans helpline is 116 123 which provides support to anyone in emotional distress 24 hours a day. 


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland