A MAN killed his wife with a hammer and hanged himself after becoming depressed about debt, an inquest heard.

John Carroll, 54 had borrowed more than £100,000, and monthly debt repayments amounted to more than £2,000 a month. He was also concerned he would be made redundant.

The hearing was told that his wife Linda, also 54, had tried to fight off a knife attack before being killed with a hammer at their home in Altham.

The family are considering legal action against the Priory Hospital in Preston. It released John following treatment after he had made an earlier attempt on his wife's life.

Coroner Michael Singleton, who recorded verdicts of suicide and unlawful killing, said: "It is difficult to conceive of a more tragic event. For the family to lose one family member was in any event a great tragedy but to lose both parents in these circumstances is beyond words."

A murder inquiry was launched on November 24 2002 after family friends found Mr Carroll hanging in the garage at the couple's home in Pendle View, Burnley Road.

Police discovered the body of his wife in the loft with substantial head injuries. Officers later confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Officers had also been called to the house on October 8 last year.

At yesterday's inquest John Carroll, the couple's son, said: "My father had attempted to kill my mother and then tried to commit suicide. It appeared he had tried to cut her throat and then hang himself."

Mrs Carroll was not seriously injured but Mr Carroll cut his own wrist and was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital. He was later transferred as a voluntary patient to the Priory Clinic, Preston.

Mr Carroll was released on November 12 but Mr Carroll Jnr told the inquest he had told nursing staff a week earlier that his father was not fit to go home.

Amanda Ofoluwa, the couple's daughter, said: "I just can't understand how he could have done such a thing and tried to kill my mum. My mum was in a total state of shock. All she wanted was for my dad to come home and for everything to be normal."

Dr Shasbank Chattree, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory, told the inquest he had not been made aware of any concerns for Mr Carroll by his staff or the patient's family.

He said: "He was no longer a risk to himself or his wife. We could not have compelled him to stay in hospital."

Mr Carroll was provided with medication and was visited by Reginald Kielty, manager of Hyndburn Community Mental Health Team, who carried out a risk assessment on Mr Carroll on November 21

The inquest had earlier heard that Mr Carroll had been distressed and had talked about hearing voices and wanting to kill himself after returning home. He had taken out a number of short-term financial loans that exceeded £100,000 in total and owed £2,035 a month, including his mortgage.

He had also been concerned that he might lose his job at Slingers, the butcher group in Great Harwood, after a friend was made redundant. But Phillip Ellis, director of the Slinger Group, had told the inquest there had been no talk of redundancies and that he had helped the family look into consolidating the loans to pay them back over a longer period of time.