Billingshurst Christmas Day double death now being treated as murder-suicide

The home in Groomsland Drive, Billingshurst where the couple were found dead on Christmas Day SUS-150113-171504001
The home in Groomsland Drive, Billingshurst where the couple were found dead on Christmas Day SUS-150113-171504001

The deaths of a Billingshurst couple found in their home on Christmas Day are now being treated as a murder-suicide enquiry by police.

Jan Tshabalala, 33 and wife Julia, 30, were found in their home in Groomsland Drive just after 9am.

Extensive forensic and toxicological tests have just been completed and show this to be the most likely outcome, police said.

A Home Office pathologist has given the cause of death in Julia’s case as being consistent with pressure on the neck.

Jan was found to have subsequently died from hanging.

The exact circumstances still remain to be decided at an inquest into the couple’s deaths.

Evidence will now be presented to the West Sussex coroner for an inquest to be held.

Senior investigating officer in the case is Detective Chief Inspector Paul Rymarz, of the Sussex and Surrey major crime team.

He said: “People may be wondering why it has taken so long to determine the causes of the couple’s deaths.

“But this has not been a straightforward case and consideration has had to be given to a number of forensic factors. We have had to await the outcome of tests that have taken time to complete.

“Members of the Tshabalalas’ family are fully aware of this and understand the reasons.

“I have been grateful to them for their dignity and patience while this investigation has proceeded.”

The date of an inquest into the two deaths has yet to be fixed.

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