Family finds father-of-two stabbed to death by burglar at their home

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The Independent Online

A father of two young children was stabbed to death when he confronted a burglar at his home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

A father of two young children was stabbed to death when he confronted a burglar at his home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Robert Symons, 45, was discovered fatally wounded by his wife and children at their house in Chiswick, west London, at about 4.30am. Mr Symons was woken by noises from downstairs, which he went to investigate. It is believed he became involved in a struggle with the intruder. According to police a second burglar may have been with the attacker at the £1m house.

After hearing the fracas, his wife Linda, 44, went downstairs and found her husband lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs bleeding from several stab wounds.

The couple's two daughters, both under the age of five,also came down the stairs and saw their dying father. Another man and woman who are related to Mr Symons and live with them in the large house were woken up by the assault.

A man was seen leaving the premises. He is described as white, wearing a light-coloured short-sleeved shirt. No knife has been recovered. Mr Symons was taken to Charing Cross Hospital but died several hours later.

The family is believed to have moved to Chiswick, one of the more expensive parts of London, about two years ago.

American-born Mr Symons, who married his photographer wife six years ago, had recently given up his job as an IT consultant to become a teacher as he wanted to "put something back into the community". He had started a new job at Queens Park Community School in Kilburn, north-west London only a month ago.

Mr Symons, who has dual American and British citizenship, had successfully fought off an intruder at his previous home several years earlier.

Police sealed off the length of Airedale Avenue as forensic specialists searched the house and surrounding area while officers carried out door-to-door inquiries. One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said most houses recently sold on the street had been purchased for in excess of £1m. She said: "Many of the houses used to be flats but have been turned back into family homes. It is a very family-oriented area and I can't think of anything like this happening here before. But the area has become a lot rougher in the last five years."

A post-mortem examination is due to be held at Fulham mortuary today.

The murder comes a day before new police figures are expected to reveal that violent crime in England and Wales rose by up to 10 per cent in the past year. In London, while burglaries are at a 29-year low, the number of recorded violent crimes rose by 2 per cent in the year to April. Almost half of the 211 people murdered in London were stabbed. Police solved a record 78 per cent of the homicides but there have been concerns about the rise in the willingness of young people to carry and use knives. Nationally, about a quarter of all homicides are due to knife attacks.