Stacey Banner (pictured outside Surrey Coroner’s Court today) has revealed how she once love the man who murdered her mother and sister as though he was her stepfather
A woman broke down in tears as she told a court that the man who killed her mother and sister had been someone she had once loved as a stepfather.
Stacey Banner told an inquest at Surrey Coroner’s Court that John Lowe, despite hitting her, was more of a father figure when she was growing up than her real father, who was a violent ‘monster’.
Mrs Banner was giving evidence into the inquest surrounding the deaths of her mother and sister Christine Lee, 66, and Lucy Lee, 40, who were shot dead by Lowe, then aged 82, at Keepers Cottage Stud in Farnham in February 2014.
Police previously confiscated Lowe’s shotguns from him after he threatened to kill Stacey, only for officers to return his firearms before the double murder.
Mrs Banner told Surrey Coroner’s Court the family first met Lowe in about 1986 to 1987 when they went to get her a puppy when she was about 12.
Her mother and Lowe ‘almost instantly’ struck up a personal relationship even though he already had a long-term partner, Sue Wilson.
Lucy Lee (pictured, right) called police in a harrowing 999 call played at today’s inquest. She told operator that her mother (pictured, left) had been shot dead by the farmer and begged for help shortly before being killed
It led to an unconventional set-up where she, her mother and sister would live sporadically at Keepers Cottage for weeks or months at a time with Lowe and Ms Wilson.
Mrs Banner described her sister Lucy as a ‘protector’, as incredibly kind, bright, fearless and clever during their ‘horrendous’ childhood.
John Lowe (pictured with some of the puppies on his farm) murdered a mother and her daughter with a shotgun in 2014
She said that she went on to think of the ‘lovely’ and straightforward Ms Wilson as a second mother, ‘which was quite difficult as you can imagine’.
On how she felt about Lowe at that time, Mrs Banner said: ‘I loved him. He was much nicer and kinder. It was a double-edged sword.’
Breaking down in tears, she added: ‘I loved him because he could be incredibly kind to Lucy and I. He could be incredibly funny. I hate saying it. Yes, he hit us but it was not like what we experienced before.’
It was the first of a number of times that Mrs Banner broke down in court as she recalled events.
Lowe was convicted of the double murder at Guildford Crown Court and jailed for life with a minimum of 25 years – just one year after officers confiscated his guns. He died in August 2018.
After the criminal trial, it emerged the shotgun he used had been confiscated by police but handed back seven months before the murders.
Mrs Banner told the inquest she had limited contact with her mother from about 2009 to 2013 after they had rowed.
By 2012 she was living in Aldershot with her husband and two children, and a chance meeting with Lowe ended up with her going back to the property.
John Lowe (pictured) was 82 when he murdered Lucy Lee and he mother Christine. An inquest is examining how much police knew about the threat that he posed and today jurors heard he also threatened Stacey Banner (right)
Mrs Banner then returned to the property every day where she helped to care for the animals who were living in dirty conditions and an unwell Ms Wilson, who died in March 2013.
Mrs Banner said: ‘John was like a dad to me and Sue was like a second mum, so my motivation, as I saw it, was to help my parents.’
The court heard that she told Lowe that he should not be dog breeding as he had been banned.
Mrs Banner said he had been producing puppies that were not fit and the issue had been on a national TV programme.
She told the court ‘he didn’t care, he never cared and everything was disposable’ to him.’
Mrs Banner described Lowe as being ‘very controlling’ and ‘nasty’ in the months before Ms Wilson’s death, adding that nothing she did was good enough.
She cried as she recalled Ms Wilson’s death, saying that Lowe and another man who was at the property had burned the dead woman’s bed and belongings. She said Lowe’s demeanour ‘was different and he just did not care.’