Upminster housewife ‘murdered by boyfriend’ in Malta

�An Upminster housewife who had started a new life abroad after divorce was found murdered at her home in Malta.

Maltese police told the family of Karen Cheatle, 54, they believe she had been killed by her Maltese boyfriend, who then committed suicide.

A suicide note confessing to the crime was found, a family member claimed.

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Officers made the grim discovery last Tuesday in Melliha after finding partner John Agius, 52, hanged outside a house early the previous morning.


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Karen’s former husband, Stephen Emery, and their daughter Carli, 30, who still live in the family home in Tawny Avenue, Upminster, flew out to Malta – which had been described as Karen’s paradise – last week.

They were joined by the couple’s son Kevin, 32, who lives in Robinson Close, Hornchurch, with his partner and their two young children.

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Police investigations are ongoing but an initial post mortem revealed Karen drowned.

Toxicology reports, which have to be carried out in London, were due this week but were delayed.

It is not known whether Karen died in the apartment or was killed elsewhere and moved.

Karen’s brother Martin Cheatle, 66, who also lives in Malta with another sister Gillian Smart, 56, and mum Doris, 91, said the last week had been “a living hell”.

“I would not wish this on anyone,” he said. “We are a tight-knit family.

“I have just seen her kids off at the airport and they are understandably devastated.”

The distraught Havering family returned home on Wednesday.

Karen had moved to Malta around six years ago following the breakdown of her second marriage, to a Maltese man Nick Caruana, Martin said.

She was a keen member of the Lions Clubs International – a worldwide charity volunteer group which helps in their local community.

“Karen had come to Malta to start a new life away from the UK,” Martin explained. “Malta was her idea of paradise – the sun, the beach, the laid-back lifestyle.

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“She was happy here. She was 54 but looked about 34 and was having the time of her life. She absolutely loved it, who wouldn’t?”

He added: “She planned to live out her days here.”

Karen had been seeing John Agius for around six months, Martin said, but he had no cause for concern.

“He seemed nice,” said retiree Martin, who moved from Halstead, Essex. “Quiet and a bit moody at times, like everyone, but we thought he was alright.”

He added: “Karen was such a popular woman, always fun.

“She had just started belly-dancing lessons and was very much full of life. I can’t believe she’s gone.”

The Foreign Office confirmed they were offering support to Karen’s family.

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