A Jekyll and Hyde council leader secretly abused his wife for a decade before killing her with her own shotgun, an inquest heard yesterday.
Keith Johnson, 58, was outwardly a respectable and upstanding pillar of the community with his attractive and younger wife Andrea.
But behind closed doors he was a monster who treated her as ‘a trophy’ and subjected her to years of physical and emotional abuse.
Andrea, 44, suffered in silence and only revealed her torment in her diary.
When she finally threatened to leave him last December cruel Johnson ordered her out of their bungalow home.
He lured her back the following day with a promise not to hurt her but she arrived to find him brandishing her clay pigeon shotgun.
She dialled 999 and the emergency operator heard an explosion and a cry as she was blasted once in the chest.
Johnson, leader of North Norfolk District Council, left her dying on their driveway as he went into the back garden and turned the weapon on himself.
Police arrived at the scene in Roughton nr Cromer to find the couple’s wills and funeral instructions left on the kitchen table.
The inquest in Norwich heard how the couple, who had been together for 18 years and wed in 2004, had an open marriage with both having relationships with other people.
They had no children but Johnson, a long-serving councillor, former mayor and football referee, had three grown-up sons and grandchildren from a previous marriage.
Witnesses said he treated his younger and attractive spouse, who worked in customer services for Homebase, as ‘a trophy wife’.
She had called police in August 2011 and was recorded saying “help me” after Johnson had been violent towards her.
But when two officers arrived at her house she denied anything was wrong.
In diary entries found after her death Mrs Johnson said her husband would “change like the devil”.
As far back as March 2004 she wrote: “He doesn’t seem bothered he is hurting me, said I either like it or lump it, he ain’t going to change.”
And later she wrote: “He’s done it so often it doesn’t matter.”
A domestic homicide review of the case was published yesterday to coincide with the inquest.
Domestic violence expert Gaynour Mears said: “There is a tendency to think that domestic abuse does not happen in affluent areas.
“This case graphically demonstrates how the public face of an individual can be very different to the one behind closed doors.
“The phrase ‘it doesn’t happen here’ needs to be dispelled and information needs to be available across the county for professionals, families, friends and colleagues to help them identify domestic abuse.”
After the inquest Mrs. Johnson’s brother Brian Chadwick said: “People now know the real man behind his precious chain of office.
“I am deeply saddened that Andrea suffered in silence through more than a decade of abuse at the hands of that monster, Keith Johnson – a man who we trusted and let into our lives.
“He was controlling, as well as physically, verbally and sexually abusive and when my sister tried to leave him, he killed her for it.”
Mrs Johnson’s parents Jan and John Chadwick, said: “We would like to thank Gaynor Mears from the Domestic Homicide Review for her in depth report into the abuse, physical and sexual, that Andrea suffered at the hands of her husband Keith.
“With this report being published we hope others will stand to gain from it and the public will see Keith’s Jekyll and Hyde character which led to Andrea’s murder.”
The couple added: “We are devastated by her tragic death.
“She was such a beautiful, loving, bubble character, dearly loved and sadly missed.
“We feel for Keith’s family, as they are victims too.”
Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong, sitting in Norwich, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that Andrea was in a state of turmoil at that stage about what to do.
“The murder of Andrea by Keith was not committed in a moment of madness or while his ability to control his actions was impaired.
“The killing was deliberate, he made a decision to kill Andrea and then to kill himself.
“It was quite clear her life was beyond saving.
“These deaths could not have been foreseen by the police, by medical professionals or anybody else concerned.”
Verdict: Johnson – suicide. Mrs Johnson – unlawful killing.