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Police open murder and suicide case into couple’s deaths

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

The mother of the young wife who died has paid tribute to her as police continue to investigate the tragedy.

Jan and Julia Tshabalala were found on Christmas Day 2014 and detectives have had to wait while complex tests were carried out to decide their next move in the investigation.

Speaking on behalf of her family Mrs Susan Trim said of her daughter: “We are all absolutely devastated by Julia’s death. The pain and the heartache we feel at losing such a beautiful daughter, sister and mother is indescribable.

“Julia was a loving, happy, kind and caring daughter and a fantastic mother to her two young children.

“Julia was taken from us much too soon.  She lived for her children and would have done anything for them.

“My daughter and I were very close and I miss her more than words can say. I will always love her dearly and her beautiful memory lives on in her children.”

An inquest into the deaths of Mrs Tshabalala and her husband, 33, has yet to take place.

It has been confirmed that a neck injury from pressure applied led to Mrs Tshabalala’s death, and that her husband died from hanging.

Further inquiries are now being carried out into the exact circumstances.

Police say extensive forensic and toxicological tests have just been completed and they show the suggested causes to be the most likely outcome.

Their bodies were found at their home in Groomsland Drive, Billingshurst, on the morning of December 25 last year.

Evidence will now be presented to the coroner for West Sussex, Penelope Schofield, for an inquest date to be fixed.

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

DCI Rymarz 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.”

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

The police said in a statement that a Home Office pathologist has given the cause of death in Mrs Tshabalala’s case as being consistent with pressure on the neck. Her husband was found to have subsequently died from hanging.

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