A HUSBAND left a cryptic note before brutally stabbing his wife to death and then killing himself.

Police believe the only explanation for Nigel Maude’s actions was the stress and financial pressure he was under after his mother moved into a care home.

At an inquest yesterday, a coroner was told that Mr Maude used an 18cm kitchen knife to stab housewife Judith, 57, three times in the neck and once in the back.

He had left a message on the mantelpiece which read: “Sorry, I lost her.”

There was also evidence Mrs Maude had been throttled and attempts had been made to smother her with a pillow.

A neighbour said he had seen Mr Maude earlier that morning sitting on a child’s swing in the back garden of the couple’s home in Charles Crescent, Hoghton.

The court heard how, after killing his wife, the 58-year-old vehicle fitter drove to the railway line at nearby Chapel Lane, and ‘stood tall’ in front of a train travelling at around 63mph.

The couple were said to be ‘perfect neighbours’ who did everything together and their deaths were a ‘complete shock’ to their family and everyone who knew them.

But the inquest in Preston also heard they slept in separate bedrooms.

It emerged that Mr Maude had seen his GP the month before the deaths and complained of insomnia and feelings of stress over the living arrangements of his mother. He had no history of mental illness or depression.

Next door neighbour Robert Taylor said he had known the Maudes since they moved in 25 years ago.

He said: “They always seemed to do everything together, including gardening and tidying up outside. I have never heard them argue. They were a lovely couple and totally devoted grandparents."

Det Insp Andrew Hulme, from Lancashire Police’s force major investigation team, told the hearing it was believed Mr Maude’s note was a message to help family and friends understand what he did.

He said: “There is no suggestion that this was anything other than a happy, caring marriage.

“I am in no doubt that this is a combination of Mr Maude’s mother going into the care home and the associated financial complications that may have been the motive for Mr Maude’s actions.”

The officer added that the couple's daughter Vicky saw her parents the day before their deaths and remembered Mr Maude as being ‘thoughtful and distant but nothing unusual’.

But he seemed quieter than usual when he rang her at about 9.50am the following day, on August 11.

He told her he and her mother were going for a drive to Settle but she thought it was odd he did not invite her along as he normally would.

In a statement, train driver Paul Corry described how he saw Mr Maude at the side of the track shortly before the collision at about 10.55am.

He said he then ran onto the tracks as the train approached.

Mr Corry said: “I sounded the horn and put on the brakes. He ran on the track and immediately stood up straight and faced me straight on.”

When British Transport Police officers went to the couple’s semi-detached home to inform Mrs Maude of her husband’s death, they discovered her blood-soaked, fully-clothed body underneath a quilt in an upstairs bedroom of the locked property.

Det Insp Hulme said: "Mr and Mrs Maude were certainly of good character, had no real issues with debts and there were no reported crimes involving them.”

A computer was seized from their home but other than a number of Google searches for the Department of Work and Pensions, there was nothing of any evidential value.

West Lancashire deputy coroner Simon Jones recorded that Mrs Maude had been unlawfully killed and that her husband had taken his own life.

Mr Jones said: "It (the cause) may be stress in relation to issues relating to his mother going into a home. We don't know.

“The word tragedy is readily used but this indeed is a tragedy, completely unexplained.

“It is hard to conceive the effect it would have on the family.”