Father and daughter found dead after party

A company director and his teenage daughter were found dying in their home the day after a family birthday party, it emerged yesterday.

Police called to the house in a picturesque Essex village Sible Hedingham on Saturday found Costas Pierides, 48, and his 16-year-old daughter Margaret with fatal injuries, thought to be stab wounds. The businessman was pronounced dead at the scene while the teenager died after being airlifted to hospital.

Yesterday, police said they had launched a murder investigation but were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths. It also emerged that the teenager had had a troubled relationship with her father.

Friends of the family described Margaret as a "wild card" who had "gone off the rails" during her final year in school and had several serious arguments with her father. Nevertheless, she had recently returned home after spending time in a hostel and seemed to have made up with her family.

Just hours before her death she posted a message on social networking site Facebook that said: "What a special girl I am. Well, my dad says so anyway."

Along with her mother Bernadette, two younger sisters and two brothers, Margaret and her father, who ran his own private ambulance company, had just returned from a family holiday in Greece.

"Margaret was a little troubled but a lovely girl," said Celestine Adams, 45. Her daughter Kika Willings, 18, added: "When she went back home she was so happy. She was sorting her life out. She seemed to have patched things up. We were best friends. She was so much fun to be around. She was crazy."

The teenager, who did not complete all of her GCSE exams, had started a college course as a beautician days before her death and villagers in Sible Hedingham, said the family had held a birthday party for one of Margaret's younger sisters Androulla, nine, on Friday.

"They are nothing but an absolutely normal, close-knit family," said businessman Lee Marman, 39. " Costas was a kind, hardworking man. He worked long hours running his own business, like I do."

Other friends suggested that, while the teenager lived a "lavish" lifestyle, she thought her father was too controlling. He had thrown her out of the house a few months earlier after she had a few "run-ins" with the police.

However, parish priest, the Rev Laurie Bond, who had lunch with the family last weekend, said they all seemed happy and Margaret had been looking forward to starting the course. "There has been a great deal of shock around the village because they were a well-known family," he added.