A 'psychopath' strangled his partner to death in her bedroom despite being the subject of two court orders banning him from seeing her, a Harrogate inquest heard today

Mother-of-four Kelly Smith, 23, was killed by Robert Johnson, 27, at their home in a horrific culmination of their violent, drunken and abusive seven-year relationship.

Former chef Johnson, described as an "abusive alcoholic" drug user, was also found dead at Miss Smith's house in Slingsby Crescent, Harrogate, in June 2007.

The couple had been together since 1999 and had a "love-hate relationship" which led to two orders preventing Mr Johnson from contacting Miss Smith, the inquest at Harrogate Magistrates' Court heard.

Coroner Geoff Fell read a number of statements from family and friends describing the "dysfunctional" relationship.

Witnesses told how, on one occasion, Miss Smith woke to find Mr Johnson standing at the foot of her bed with a hammer raised above his head.

Neighbour Anne-Marie Hughes once dialled 999, saying in a statement: 'I would describe him as a psychopath. I saw him attack his brother with a hammer then run after him with a knife in the street.'

Mr Fell told the inquest that Miss Smith called police on 25 occasions between 2000 and 2005.

But he said when police arrived at the house Mr Johnson had usually left the area.

Miss Smith also had two panic buttons installed in her home but had never used them, the inquest heard.

Mr Fell told the inquest Miss Smith went to three women's refuges during her relationship with Mr Johnson but always returned to Harrogate.

Mr Johnson was sent to live in a bail hostel in Leeds in the months before their deaths but was allowed to return to live with his mother in Harrogate when he was evicted.

Mr Fell said despite a non-molestation order preventing Mr Johnson from contacting Miss Smith and an occupation order banning him from going within 100 metres of Slingsby Crescent, the couple continued to see each other.

Returning a verdict that Miss Smith was unlawfully killed, the coroner said: "Kelly was aware that the orders were in place to protect her, she would only use these orders when it suited her."

He continued: "Members of both Rob and Kelly's families knew what was going on but did little to tell the authorities."

Mr Fell said Mr Johnson suffered from depression and was prescribed anti-depressant tablets which he did not take in the days before his death.

He also had a drink problem and used drugs and had been drinking before he killed Miss Smith, which could have "heightened his emotional state", Mr Fell said.

Speaking during the inquest Les Smith, Miss Smith's father, said he believed police had done all they could.

He said: "I do believe police did all that was possible. They did a really good job."

He continued: "I'm very pleased with the way things have gone this morning and it's good to have a bit of closure to it."