Friends' shock at man's shotgun death

PUBLISHED: 12:19 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

FRIENDS of a man shot dead on the Isle of Wight have spoken of their grief at his death. Geoff Lawson, aged 61, had spent half his life living locally and left Wheathampstead four years ago, shortly after he got married, to move to the Isle of Wight with

FRIENDS of a man shot dead on the Isle of Wight have spoken of their grief at his death.

Geoff Lawson, aged 61, had spent half his life living locally and left Wheathampstead four years ago, shortly after he got married, to move to the Isle of Wight with his new wife, Helen

Mrs Lawson, also 61, has been charged with the murder of her husband who was shot twice in the chest with a shotgun while he lay in bed.

She called police to their home in a cottage near Freshwater where Mr Lawson's body was discovered.

Mrs Lawson made a brief appearance before the Isle of Wight Magistrates Court last week before being remanded in custody to appear at Winchester Crown Court in April.

Friends of Mr Lawson, who lived in Lower Luton Road for 30 years before moving to the south coast, said that they could not believe what had happened.

Hamish Miller, landlord at Mr Lawson's old local, the Gibraltar Castle Pub in Batford, hosted the couple's wedding reception there:

He said: "It came as a complete surprise. The two of them seemed perfectly happy when they left for the Isle of Wight. They were never noisy or raucous. Geoff often helped out around the building and Helen even hung up my hanging baskets."

Another friend and neighbour, who did not wish to be named, visited the couple at their seaside home last September and said he was equally stunned at the news: "I'm still in a state of shock and nobody can understand why it happened. My wife and I stayed with Geoff and Helen for a week only a few months ago and everything seemed fine."

He added: "I knew Geoff for 30 years and he often worked for me and my building company. It's an awful thing to happen to a man who was very easy-going and never lost his temper. I do know that he had a bit of a drinking problem towards the end."

Geoff and Helen Lawson first dated years ago and, after both their first marriages failed, they rekindled the relationship in their late 50s. They lived together in Mr Lawson's Lower Luton Road home and were regulars at the Gibraltar Castle four or five times a week.

A couple of months after they were married, they moved to the old Post Office building in the Isle of Wight, which had always been Mr Lawson's favourite holiday destination.

Mr Lawson, who retired three years ago from his job as a draughtsman, had two sons from a previous marriage, both of whom have moved away from the Wheathampstead area. Justin, a firefighter in Hatfield, and Mark, who is in the RAF and currently training pilots in Canada, will both be attending their father's funeral on Monday in Ruislip.

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