MENTAL health staff and social workers could not have prevented a schizophrenic man from Runcorn from killing his wife and taking his own life, an inquiry has ruled.
Christopher and Eunice Watts died at their home in The Glen, Palacefields, on December 4, 1999.
Fifty-seven-year-old Mr Watts stabbed his wife with a pair of scissors and strangled her before taking a fatal dose of anti-depressant drugs.
He was found unconscious in the kitchen surrounded by hundreds of pills and died nine days later in Whiston Hospital.
The inquiry, carried out by the former Halton General Hospital NHS Trust, stated: 'There was no evidence of major systems failure in the provision of care.'
It found that guidance policies were followed to the letter and staff acted within the highest professional standards.
Mr Watts was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic at the age of 19.
He had a history of violent behaviour and had previously assaulted and threatened to shoot his wife.
Mrs Watts, 55, also suffered from a schizophrenic disorder. The couple had received psychiatric treatment at Halton Hospital for many years.
At a two-day inquest last year Dr Malcolm Green, consultant psychiatrist at Halton Hospital, said Mr Watts' records showed he had expressed an intention to kill.
In October 1999, he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act but a tribunal released him against the recommendations of his psychiatrist and social worker.
The inquiry's report stated: 'The decisions made were within the normal practice of mental health services throughout the NHS.
'We believe it important to realise serious incidents can occur even in services which meet all the standards of the National Service Framework and Department of Health guidance.'
The inquiry made 28 recommendations, which have been adopted as a mental health action plan by North Cheshire Health Authority and North Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
The plan includes changes to the way risk assessment is carried out, a drive to recruit more consultant psychiatrists and enhanced training in mental health for junior doctors.
Alan Doran, chief executive of North Cheshire Health Authority, said: 'We would like to express our deepest sympathy to Mr and Mrs Watt's family in what was a very tragic case.
'We would like to take the opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to the staff of the mental health unit at Halton Hospital for the extremely professional manner in which they cared for the couple.'
Ged Taylor, Halton Borough Council's director of social care, said: 'While this report is the result of a distressing set of circumstances, it highlights that Halton has social care and health teams which are professional and caring and in which local people should feel confident.'