Murdered children had been drugged

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The Independent Online
THREE CHILDREN found dead in a car near their father's body were knocked out with sleeping pills before succumbing to a fire he lit in the vehicle, police said yesterday.

The bodies of Lucy Carter, aged seven, Thomas, four, and Hollie, three, were all found in their father's car two weeks ago at Weaver's Hill, a remote beauty spot in Staffordshire. Their father, Steven, 36, was found nearby, hanged from a tree.

Yesterday, as a five-minute inquest hearing released the bodies of the three children for burial and of Mr Carter for cremation, his wife, Teresa, of Staffordshire, spoke for the first time about the tragedy, saying nothing could justify what she believed her husband had done to hurt her beloved children. She said what had occurred was "inexplicable".

Police have confirmed that there had been domestic problems in the weeks before the tragedy. The couple were said to have had a troubled marriage. Detective Superintendent Jeff Virgo, heading the investigation into the deaths, also said letters written by Mr Carter to his wife described his troubled state of mind. They were found in a briefcase in the car where his children died.

Yesterday's hearing at Hartshill coroner's court, Stoke-on-Trent, was adjourned.