Two dead in violent tragedy

A LONER with a history of mild depression killed his mother with a hammer and a kitchen knife at her home in Hailsham before committing suicide later that day.

Terence Hamblen, a 50-year-old computer programmer who dabbled in the stock market, was staying with his mother Joan, 77, in Beuzeville Avenue last summer while he planned an extended trip to Australia.

On the morning of Saturday, August 3, Mr Hamblen 'flipped' for an unknown reason and attacked his mother with a hammer, smashing her skull, before stabbing her numerous times in the back. That afternoon, he suffocated himself in her car.

Mr Hamblen's father Stanley, who lived and worked in London, this week told an inquest that his son and wife had an 'excellent' relationship. 'I never knew Terry to lose his temper, let alone be violent,' he said. 'It was a complete shock.

'On the Sunday evening, I travelled back to Hailsham and was met by a police officer, who told me that both my son and my wife were dead. It was like I had walked into a nightmare.'

The inquest heard that the body of Mrs Hamblen, a former bank worker, was discovered in the kitchen by police officers who had been assigned to tell her of her son's suicide. He had been found dead in his mother's Nissan Micra, which had a tumble-dryer ventilation pipe attached to the exhaust, the night before. The car was parked in Studden's Lane at Trolliloes, Cowbeech.

Postman Chris Maharry was going about his rounds as usual on the morning of August 3 when he heard 'a commotion' coming from the Hamblen household.

'I heard some very strange noises,' he said. 'I soon realised it was Terry making the noises and I thought he was losing his temper or having a fit. He was making a grunting sound and gasping, like he was making a great physical effort.

'There was also a sound like breaking furniture, but repetitive, like he was breaking something. I was very worried and I thought that something serious had happened.'

A bit later on, Mr Maharry knocked on the door and spoke to Mr Hamblen, who 'seemed very calm and normal and completely in control of himself'. Mr Hamblen explained the noises by claiming he had been moving some heavy furniture in the garage, and he chatted about an investment magazine.

'It amazes me now that he was able to speak about the minutiae of financial investments like that. I never even considered the thought of domestic violence and murder.'

A statement from Hailsham GP Dr Martin Croucher revealed that Mr Hamblen, who never married and was described as a 'loner' by his father, had suffered from depression at the start of January 2001 but that a course of medication had soon sorted things out.

Coroner Alan Craze said:'It appears that there was some kind of altercation and Mr Hamblen seems to have "flipped" and attacked his mother. No amount of questioning will ever provide us with a satisfactory answer, which makes this case all the more disturbing.'

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for Mrs Hamblen and suicide for her son.