TO NEIGHBOURS, Michael and Susan Cole were a polite but quiet couple who seemed to be living out a perfectly normal life in the St Marychurch area of Torquay.
Sue and Mike, as they were known, were believed to suffer from health problems and she would occasionally be seen walking with a stick back from the shops.
But behind closed doors at their house, Ostersund, in Shelley Avenue, Cole (pictured), 56, was becoming exasperated with the mundane nature of his life.
He tried to convince his wife to enter a suicide pact and when she refused, he killed her with a hammer and a knife.
He then tried, but failed to take his own life. Last week Cole pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to the murder of his 53-year-old wife.
The unemployed husband told police their life had no meaning and revolved around watching TV.
It was two days after the killing that he called police to tell them his wife was dead.
He could give police no explanation about why he had killed the only person who was close to him. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years and three months.
The couple had been married for 32 years. Cole killed his wife by stabbing her in the neck with a knife and hitting her on the back of the head with a hammer.
He had no previous convictions and nothing financial to gain from his murderous act.
He said he faced the prospect of losing their home when their savings ran out.
DCI Dave Thorne, who investigated the case, said: "He had previously tried a suicide pact, but Susan Cole didn't want anything to do with it. This was a murder not a suicide pact.
"What does seem to be true is they had been getting in an increasing state of desperation with their finances running out.
"They weren't of the view of taking money from the state and were not on benefits.
"They were renting the house, but that was never definitively proved as a reason and he doesn't know why he did it."
The couple had worked in the past and were from Torquay originally. They had no children and no relatives living in the town. Police were called to the scene on March 13.
Cole had tried to take his own life with an overdose of pills and when that failed used a bread knife to cut his wrists.
Neighbours at the time spoke of their shock about what had happened. One said: "I just knew them as Sue and Mike. They've always kept themselves to themselves. He's been in poor health anyway and I don't think they worked. Most people around here just know them to say hello to."
Another neighbour said she believed Mrs Cole suffered from multiple sclerosis and Mr Cole had arthritis.
He was treated at Torbay Hospital, but had recovered sufficiently to appear before magistrates charged with his wife's murder two days after being arrested.
DCI Thorne said: "He admitted what had happened and that was said in court. He never denied that he had done it."