Murdered mum Sue suffered hate calls

A MOTHER-of-four who died in a house fire in Broughton Astley was subjected to a barrage of hate mail and crank phone calls before she died, an inquest heard yesterday (Wednesday).

Sue McDonald (47) died in the arson attack on her home in Cookes Drive in the early hours of December 1, 2002.

At the inquest held at Leicester Town Hall, coroner James Symington said Ms McDonald, who had been battling against cancer, had received hurtful text messages, letters and phone calls in the weeks leading up to her death.

One of the text messages read: "If the cancer doesn't kill you, I will."

And, in a reference to her fiance Rod Harris, who survived the fire, another one said: "Rod is having an affair."

Her daughter Claire revealed in her police statement that Ms McDonald had to change her phone number because of the amount of calls she was getting.

Ms McDonald was due to marry Mr Harris just three weeks after she was killed, while she was also receiving treatment for cancer.

At the end of the two-hour inquest, Mr Symington recorded a verdict of unlawful killing with death being caused by inhalation of smoke and fumes, with a particularly high percentage of carbon monoxide.

The blaze had swept through the house after a wheeled bin was set on fire outside the front door.

Mr Harris told the inquest he and his fiancee were asleep in their bedroom when she woke him up and said the door was on fire.

He said he looked out of their window and saw the fire.

He said: "I saw a person running away but I was more concerned with getting me and Sue out of the house.

"I went out of the bedroom to see what was happening. All this time I was calling after Sue. I thought she was behind me but I heard no answer.

"The smoke and fumes were already coming into the house."

He went into another bedroom at the back of the house and was able to use curtains to clamber out of the window and jump to safety in the back garden.

He said he tried to get back into the house through the front but was unable to rescue his fiancee.

Ms McDonald's body was later found on her bedroom floor by firefighter Billy Jack, who also told the inquest: "A member of the public told me that someone had started the fire deliberately."

Police launched a murder hunt but nobody has so far been charged with killing Ms McDonald.

After the inquest, her eldest son Matthew said the family was pleased with the verdict.

He said: "This proves that someone killed our mum and we are determined to find out who it was. Someone out there knows who it was and I desperately hope that they can be caught.

"I wasn't looking forward to today but it sort of puts an end to what we have been going through, although it will end altogether when the police catch who did it."

Recording his verdict, the coroner said: "I hope today's hearing may encourage anyone who can help the police to come forward."

After the inquest Detective Superintendent Graham Thomas, who is leading the murder inquiry, said: "Investigations are on-going as they have been for some time now but we have had no new information from the public after our appeal at the end of November.

"Anyone with any information whatsoever should get in touch with us as soon as possible."

Police can be contacted on 0116 222 2222.