Inquest hears of ex-golfer’s descent into depression

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An inquest in to the death of Holbrook woman Rachael Slack, her toddler son has heard how her former partner’s mental condition went rapidly downhill since being gripped by depression.

Despite globetrotting in his younger days as a businessman and pro - golfer, towards the end of his life Andrew Cairns, 44, the father of the couple’s 22-month-old son Auden would not admit visitors to his Marehay bungalow and was on occasions found sobbing in supermarkets.

Rachael, 38, Auden and Andrew Cairns were found dead in Rachael’s Holbrook cottage in June, 2010. Rachael had a new partner and they were expecting a child.

On Thursday forensic pathologist Guy Rutty told the hearing at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroners’ Court in Derby that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ Mr Cairns had stabbed pregnant Miss Slack and Auden to death at her house in Well Yard before turning the knife on himself to end his own life.

Speaking on Firday, September 13, the jury heard evidence from Rachael’s mother Jean Slack, who spoke of the deterioration of her daughter’s former partner.

“He was a changed man towards the end,” she said. “He looked most strange.

“When I first met him he was smart and clean - he just stopped caring for himself.”

Ms Slack told the hearing how Mr Cairns met her daughter in 2004 in Ronda, Spain.

Mr Cairns, who was married at the time and had previously run a golfing franchise and a design company in America, enlisted Rachael’s help in setting up an art gallery in Ronda.

They began seeing each other, but when Rachael became pregnant in 2007 she returned to Britain, renting a cottage in Wessington while also running a floral design company in London.

Ms Slack told the court how Mr Cairns, already suffering from panic attacks, did not return to England until around April 2008.

It was at this time Ms Slack began to notice a change in his condition.

“He began to act in strange ways,” she told the inquest. “He used to sit looking though the window and he wouldn’t speak to us. In the end we had to take him to see his doctor in Alfreton.”

The couple moved into Ms Slack’s home in Ripley, but Mr Cairns continued to get worse, she said. He received treatment at the psychiatric unit of Chesterfield Hospital and a medical team from Clay Cross made home visits.

By Christmas 2008, after the birth of their son, Rachael and Mr Cairn’s relationship had all but ended.

The following April he moved to a bungalow in Marehay.

Rachael and Auden continued to see him most days, but his behaviour continued to get increasingly unusual.

On one occasion he claimed he had slept overnight by a ‘lake’ in Marehay, Ms Slack said, having written a suicide note that marked his intentions to drown himself.

On another occasion he refused to get out of Rachael’s car, forcing her to drive him to a police station in Derby. He was not detained by officers, she said.

Mr Cairns talked regularly of wanting to end his life and would often not talk to visitors, Ms Slack added.

Shortly before his death on June 2, 2010, he learned that Rachael had found a new partner, Robert Barlow, who she had known since school, and was pregnant with his child.

In the final ten days of his life, he called Rachael day and night, Ms Slack said, talking often of his fears that she would leave and take their son with her.

Ms Slack said she last saw her daughter on the Bank Holiday Monday of May 30. They went for coffee and arranged to go shopping the next day, but Rachael cancelled.

When they spoke on the phone on the night of June 1, 2010, it was the last time Ms Slack would every hear her daughter’s voice.

She said: “She seemed all right but it made me wonder whether she was keeping things from me. Andrew had been ringing her a lot that day.

“Then, of course , it happened the next day.”

“I never saw her again.”

The inquest is expected to take up to eight weeks with more than 30 witnesses set to give evidence.

Rachael attended Waingroves Primary School and Mill Hill School in Ripley. At one time she ran a florist’s shop in Heanor Road, Codnor.

The inquest resumed today, with evidence heard from Miss Slack’s partner at the time of her death Robert Barlow.