‘There’s a hole in the hearts of everyone who knew Nicki’

Sharon Kearns, left, with her friend Nicki Holden, whose body was found with that of her husband  in her home on Friday morning
Sharon Kearns, left, with her friend Nicki Holden, whose body was found with that of her husband in her home on Friday morning
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Emotional tributes were today paid to a mum who is thought to have been strangled by her husband in their home.

A relative called police after finding Robert Holden’s body in the hallway of the semi-detached bungalow in Torrisholme, near Morecambe, on Friday.

Officers and paramedics then found the body of his wife, Nicola Holden, in a back bedroom of the house, on Low Lane, at 11.50am.

Mr Holden, 44, a prison officer at Lancaster Farms Young Offenders Institute, is believed to have strangled his 40-year-old wife, before taking his own life by hanging himself.

A post mortem examination revealed Mrs Holden, who worked as a machinist for commercial sewing contractors Lancastle International, based at Halton, near Lancaster, has suffered from “ligature strangulation”.

Mr Holden died as a result of strangulation by hanging.

The double death has sent shockwaves through the quiet community of Torrisholme, with stunned wellwishers leaving floral tributes outside the home the couple shared with their 16-year-old son.

The Morecambe High School pupil is being cared for by relatives, after police went to his school on Friday to tell the teenager the news.

Police say the couple had only returned from a week-long holiday together to Mexico on Thursday.

Det Chief Insp Neil Esseen, who is leading the investigation for Lancashire Police, said the probe will try to establish the events leading up to the deaths.

Both families are said by police to be “shocked and numb”.

DCI Esseen said: “You don’t think this is going to happen to your family, they just don’t understand it.”

Both Mr and Mrs Holdens’ families live in the Lancaster and Morecambe areas.

Floral tributes have been left on the doorstep outside the bungalow, paying tribute to Mrs Holden, known to her friends as Nicki.

One said: “To the best mate anyone could wish for. Can’t believe you are gone. Love and miss you so much Nic.”

Another read: “To my best friend Nicki, I’m gonna miss you so much my crazy friend.”

And another tribute added: “We will miss you so much, your smile, your jokes, the singing on the headphones at work. Our lives are missing a special person.”

One of Mrs Holden’s co-worker at Lancastle, who asked not to be named, was among those laying flowers at the home.

Fighting back tears, she said: “She was a lovely, lovely person with a real heart of gold.

“She was just so bubbly all the time.

“She was lovely to work with and a real laugh.”

Tributes have also been left on social networking sites Close friend Sharon Kearns, 40, said: “Nicki was a big part of my life and my best friend. I’m so glad I spent 29 years with her.”

Another tribute read: “There’s a gaping hole in the hearts of everyone who had the privilege of knowing Nicki. Can’t believe such a beautiful, funny, caring person has been taken away from us.”

Mr Holden was a regular visitor to the Jubilee Working Men’s Club, close to the couple’s home, where he would play snooker with his son.

An assistant steward at the club said: “He used to come in on a Saturday morning and play snooker with his son and occasionally he would come in with his wife.

“They were a nice couple.”

DCI Esseen said: “We have some theories about what has happened. We are looking into any marital difficulties and external pressures.

“We are making inquiries with family members and looking at computers and phones. We are trying to piece together what happened in the build-up to this tragedy.”