‘You just don’t expect something like this to happen here’

Pam Mills
The victims were found at an address on Carpenters Lane

Jack Ralph, 28, of Carpenters Lane was arrested on Saturday morning [September 29] and the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate charged him with two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.

Officers were called to the property at 7.40am after paramedics attended to three people who had suffered serious injuries, ‘consistent with a stabbing’.

Two women died at the scene: Margaret Harris, 78, and her daughter Sharon, 55. Margaret’s husband David, also in his 70s, was airlifted to hospital with serious knife wounds and is in a stable condition.

It is alleged that the killings resulted from a complaint made by the Harris family about the noise coming from Ralph’s house.

Ralph, who was arrested close to the scene, appeared via virtual link at Medway Magistrates’ Court on Monday [October 1] and was remanded in custody. He will appear at Maidstone Crown Court, on Wednesday [October 3].

Forensics teams searched the semi-detached mock-Tudor residence where the tragedy took place and the house next door.

The victims’ family are still trying to understand what took place on Carpenters Lane. Doris Pope, Margaret Harris’s sister, said: “We are just too shocked and haven’t quite come to terms with it.” She added that it was a ‘relief’ to learn a suspect had been charged.

They later issued a statement saying: “We have lost two members of our family and are focusing on the recovery of another. We would like to ask that our privacy is respected.”

Reverend Paul White, the vicar of St Mary’s Church, held a short prayer service in the street yesterday [Sunday September 30].

The double murder has sent shockwaves through the community, with one neighbour saying he had moved to Hadlow from London to feel safer.

The police were called by paramedics at 7.40am PHOTO: Sophie Moorey-Brown

Nigel Keogh, a 51-year-old plasterer, said: “It’s quite shocking really. It’s a nice little village. We moved from London to get away from all this and it’s right on your doorstep.

“I went to work at about 7.15am and drove past and it was all quiet and I didn’t notice anything. Then my wife rang me at about 8am and said there were police everywhere and helicopters flying overhead.

“Shortly after, Nathalie said she saw an elderly man being carried out on a gurney and taken away by air ambulance.”

Mr Keogh revealed that the police rang him to ask if he was aware of a row between his neighbours earlier that morning.

Local mother Sophie Moorey-Brown described how the drama unfolded. “The first we knew about it was when there was an air ambulance very low over the houses,” she said. “There was a heavy police presence and forensic teams.

“We’ve lived here for five years and never heard anything bad happen, it has always been so quiet and a lovely place to be,” she added.

“We are very shocked and saddened by what we have heard and are trying to shield our boys from hearing too much.

“I feel so sad for the families of the deceased and hope the man makes a full recovery. It is such an awful thing to hear anywhere but in our lovely, friendly little village it’s bound to rock us residents even more so.”

Residents said Mr and Mrs Harris were often seen looking after their motorhome, which they kept parked on the driveway.

Margaret Maile said: “I wasn’t at home on Saturday and didn’t know anything about it until I came back to find the police cordon by our house.
“My son phoned me and told me Sharon and Margaret had died. I didn’t know them well, they were quiet but pleasant. We would see them to say good morning to.
“They’ve lived here longer than us and we’ve been here 32 years. It’s very sad, you just don’t expect something like this to happen here.”

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