Father stabbed two children to death on bridleway

 

The family of two children whose bodies were found with their father's in a countryside lane tonight spoke of their devastation.

The bodies of Michael, 51, Ben, seven, and Freya Pedersen, six, were found next to a Saab 900SE convertible car in the tiny lane at Newton Stacey, near Andover, Hampshire, at 6.15pm yesterday.

Tonight the children's maternal grandfather, William Clifford, 67, from Buckinghamshire, speaking outside his daughter Erica's home in Ashford, Middlesex, said: "We are obviously devastated and what we would ask is that you respect our privacy in this matter. It is extremely distressing and that is all I want to say."

Five police officers were tonight on duty outside the address.

Detective Superintendent Tony Harris, of Hampshire police, said that the "tragic incident" happened during a visit to Mr Pedersen's father during an arranged visit with his children from his estranged wife.

Mr Harris said that Surrey Police were considering referring the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) because of some previous contact with Mr Pedersen.

Mr Harris said the mother of the two children had alerted Surrey Police at 7pm yesterday after Mr Pedersen, of Chertsey, Surrey, failed to return with the children at the arranged time of 5pm.

He said he believed the deaths happened at some point during the afternoon.

Mr Harris said: "A Home Office pathologist visited the scene and at this time it appears the children suffered fatal stab wounds and Mr Pedersen took his own life shortly afterwards."

He added: "They were visiting relatives in Andover, which is nearby.

"It was the father of Mr Pedersen, the grandfather of the children."

Describing the incident, he added: "Any scene you go to with children involved is distressing for the officers, we have given them support and they continue to receive support.

"It is very tragic, it's a dreadful loss of life, one of the most tragic cases I have had to deal with."

Mr Harris said police were in the process of tracing the family of Mr Pedersen, who had two other children from a previous relationship, when his estranged wife raised the alarm.

He added that he was not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

The bodies were found lying behind the car, he said.

He added: "It's very isolated and there was a person walking yesterday who notified us to the presence of the vehicle but I do not anticipate anyone else would have seen anything."

The children's mother was informed by a family liaison officer and was being provided with support, he said.

Mr Harris said the mother of the two children had alerted Surrey Police at 7pm yesterday after Mr Pedersen failed to return with the children at the arranged time of 5pm.

He said he believed the deaths happened at some point during the afternoon.

Mr Harris said: "A Home Office pathologist visited the scene and at this time it appears the children suffered fatal stab wounds and Mr Pedersen took his own life shortly afterwards."

He added: "They were visiting relatives in Andover, which is nearby.

"It was the father of Mr Pedersen, the grandfather of the children."

Describing the incident, he added: "Any scene you go to with children involved is distressing for the officers, we have given them support and they continue to receive support.

"It is very tragic, it's a dreadful loss of life, one of the most tragic cases I have had to deal with."

Mr Harris said police were in the process of tracing the family of Mr Pedersen, who had two other children from a previous relationship, when his estranged wife raised the alarm.

He added that he was not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

The bodies were found lying behind the car, he said.

He added: "It's very isolated and there was a person walking yesterday who notified us to the presence of the vehicle but I do not anticipate anyone else would have seen anything."

The children's mother was informed by a family liaison officer and was being provided with support, he said.

PA