A "devoted" pensioner shot dead his ill wife before turning the gun on himself, an inquest heard today.

Police found the bodies of John Knott, 71, and his wife Elizabeth, 70, at their idyllic country house in Pow Green, Bosbury on August 11 last year.

The hearing at Hereford Town Hall heard from a friend of the couple who said Mr Knott, a former construction firm director, was growing increasingly concerned about his wife, who was also known as Ann, and her battle with dementia.

She believed they had made a pact to die together.

"Having had time to get over the shock and put together the pieces of the jigsaw and consider my knowledge of Ann and John it was my opinion that some time ago they made a pact to die together," said friend Elizabeth Keatley, who also lived in Bosbury, in a written statement read out at the inquest.

"He would do absolutely anything for her within his powers, and sometimes outside his powers as well I think."

Mrs Knott had a bad bout of bronchitis which had a knock-on effect on her Alzheimer's.

"She trundled along quite well for some time but it was when she developed severe bronchitis and a chest infection in autumn-winter 2013 and spent time in hospital in early 2014 the Alzheimer's seemed to speed up and take a greater toll," said Mrs Keatley.

She said plans for a small caravan site close to their home was also a concern to Mr Knott.

"He had got too much to do," she said. "Too many themes running through his head I think.

"However, I don't think this [the planning issue] was any comparison to his fears for his wife."

The couple's GP, Dr Patsy Dye of Cradley Surgery, said she was "always impressed by Mr Knott's complete devotion to his wife".

Mrs Knott had briefly spent time away from her home for respite care but her husband had brought her back to Bosbury early as he had said he was not happy with the care she was given.

"It was a totally impossible situation for them both to be apart," said Mrs Keatley.

Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said Mr Knott died from complete disruption of the craniocervical junction following intra-oral shotgun discharge.

Mrs Knott died of a shotgun wound to the head.

Detective Sergeant Tim Powell said it was clear no third party was to blame, adding officers found the door to the workshop, where the couple were found, had been locked.

He found paperwork highlighting Mr Knott's objection to the planning application but believed concern for his wife's health weighed more heavily on his mind.

No suicide note was found. The gun Mr Knott used was registered to him, he said.

Assistant coroner for Herefordshire, Roland Wooderson, recorded Mrs Knott was killed unlawfully, while Mr Knott took his own life.