A man who killed his wife and stepped in front of a train had financial worries about his mother going into care, an inquest has heard.

Nigel Maude, 58, violently stabbed Judith Maude, 57, to the back and neck and attempted to strangle and suffocate her at their semi-detached home in the village of Hoghton, Lancashire, in August.

He then drove a short distance and parked close to a railway enbankment which he ran down as a train approached.

The vehicle fitter then "stood tall" on the track as he was hit and killed instantly, Preston Coroner's Court was told.

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 heard they slept in separate bedrooms.

It emerged that Mr Maude had seen his GP the month before and complained of insomnia and feelings of stress over the living arrangements of his mother.

Recording verdicts of unlawful killing and suicide, Deputy Coroner Simon Jones said the reason for Mr Maude's actions could not be established for certain but the senior investigating officer in the case concluded the associated financial implications of his mother going into care may have been the trigger.

In a statement, train driver Paul Corry described how he saw Mr Maude at the side of the railway track in Chapel Lane, Hoghton, shortly before the collision at about 10.55am on August 11.

He said: "I saw a man who appeared to be crouched down on the left hand side of the track. It made me jump and I was startled.

"He then ran down the banking towards the line. I sounded the horn and put on the brakes.

"He ran on the track and immediately stood up straight and faced me straight on.

"He seemed to stand tall. I thought he had enough time to move...I closed my eyes as I continued to brake."

Mr Maude's mobile phone and car keys were recovered from the scene and led police to the couple's home. There they found the blood-stained fully clothed body of Mrs Maude underneath a quilt in an upstairs bedroom of the locked property.

A note was left on a mantelpiece which read: "Sorry I'd lost her."

Pathologist Dr Alison Armour told the hearing the housewife had suffered one stab wound to the back and four stab wounds to the neck.

There was also evidence she had been throttled at some point and attempts had been made to smother her with a pillow.

The weapon used was thought to be a kitchen knife which was found under the bed.

In a statement, GP Dr Stephen Howell said Mr Maude was a regular patient who suffered chronic arthritis but no history of mental illness or depression.

But on his last visit on July 26 he complained about not sleeping and his mother's living arrangements.

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

He said: "I can only describe them as perfect neighbours. 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."

He last saw Mr Maude sitting in a child's swing in his garden before going back into his home about two hours before he was hit by the train.

Detective Inspector Andrew Hulme said 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 from the house landline the following day.

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.

Mr Hulme said inquiries made at Mr Maude's workplace and his mother's care home shed no light in the investigation.

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

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

The coroner asked him: "There is nothing to suggest that this is anything but a happy and caring marriage?"

He replied: "No, nothing to suggest otherwise. This has come as a complete shock to everyone.

"In the absence of any further information coming to light, I have no doubt it is a combination of Mr Maude's mother going into the care home and the associated financial implications that may have been the trigger for his actions."

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."

The family did not wish to comment after the hearing.

In a statement, Mr Hulme said: "This was a tragic case and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr and Mrs Maude.

"The family continue to be supported by specially trained officers.

"Following the deaths, Lancashire Constabulary carried out a full and thorough investigation which was led by our Force Major Investigation Team and it was established that there was no third-party involvement. Following the investigation, the full facts were presented to Her Majesty's Coroner.

"Once again, we would like to express our sympathy to the friends and relatives of Mr and Mrs Maude for their loss."