An inquest has been told that John Didier, a 41-year old NHS worker, murdered his partner, spent a week on a river cruise boat with her daughter and then drowned himself. A hospice nurse, 49-year-old Annette Creegan was found without clothes, strangled and weighed down in the River Bure last September after police launched a search. Nearby her body, police discover Didier with evidence that suggests he drowned himself by jumping overboard with dumbbells strapped around his wrists and feet.
On 1 September 2012, police were alerted to the discovery of Creegan’s daughter, 13, alone on a boat that was anchored closed to Salhouse Broad. Police launched a search after she was found, and the girl told them in an interview that she, her mother and Didier arrived on the Broads for a holiday on Friday, 25 August. She woke up to find her mother missing the following day.
The Norwich Coroner’s Court inquest heard from Detective Constable Christina Stone that the boat was moored around 5:30pm the day they arrived on the Broads. The next day, the girl was told by Didier that her moth had left. She didn’t have access to a mobile phone, nor could she get off the boat. The girl had to stay on the boat for the days to come, and when she woke up six days later, Didier was nowhere to be found.
Broads Authority ranger Andrew Ellson rescued the girl shortly after and notified the police. Speaking at the inquest, he said that he saw the boat anchored in the isolated spot many days before. He was on a routine patrol and returning to base when he decided to check the boat out. The curtains were shut and the motor was on, and when he knocked on the side, the window opened. Then he saw the girl, who told him she was alone.
Pathologist Ben Swift told the court that Didier’s body was found the next day immersed in water. He drowned with two 15kg weights secured to his wrists and two 17.5kg dumbbells strapped to his feet. Creegan’s body was discovered in the water nearby on the afternoon of 2 September. Swift says she was naked, and cable ties had been used to secure her hands behind her knees. She had been strangled, and a 30kg dumbbell was tied to her. Bruises on her fists suggest she tried to fight Didier off, but there’s no evidence she was sexually abused. Based on the condition of her body, she was in the water for around a week.
The inquest heard from Gary Bloomfield, Detective Inspector that a detailed investigation was conducted, and he’s confident Didier murdered Creegan and then took his own life several days later. It appears he planned the whole thing, as the decision to carry this out was deliberate. There’s no indication he was mentally disturbed, however. Outside the court he said officers didn’t find any evidence that the relationship was suffering, and they don’t know what Didier’s motive was. Bloomfield added that he hopes the inquest has answered some questions surrounding the incident, and they continue offering the family support, while he offered Didier’s family his condolences.