Laid to rest together, the father and the family he killed

Church hosts separate funeral for millionaire and his wife and daughter
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The Independent Online

Two separate funeral services were held yesterday for a ruined millionaire and his wife and teenage daughter, who he shot dead before taking his own life at their luxury Shropshire mansion last August.

At 11.30am, hundreds of mourners poured into St John's Church in Maesbrook, Shropshire, to pay their final respects to Jill Foster, 49, and her daughter Kirstie, 15.

Family and friends, including many of Kirstie's classmates from Ellesmere College, filled the church. Some had to stand in the churchyard to listen to the service broadcast on a loudspeaker system.

Three hours later, others attended the same church for the funeral of Christopher Foster. His coffin, covered with orange and yellow flowers, was followed into the church by his mother, Enid, who was flanked by Foster's younger brother, Andrew and his family – his wife Pam and children Fran, Katie and Pippa.

"This morning we laid to rest the mortal remains of Jill and Kirstie. We prayed for them and commended them to God's care, and now we give thanks for Christopher, for his life and his love," Archdeacon Tony Sadler told the mourners."Our imaginations are in need of healing. I hope this service will help do that."

Mrs Foster and Kirstie will share a grave while Christopher Foster will be buried in a plot next to them.

After the service for his brother, Andrew Foster issued a statement saying that his family would never come to terms with what had happened. "Today we have finally been able to lay Jill and Kirstie to rest in a peaceful and dignified manner.

"We will never understand why Chris took Jill and Kirstie's lives away from them. We can only hope and pray that they now rest in peace."

Christopher Foster, 50, is believed to have shot his wife and daughter at the family's mansion before burning the property and shooting himself.

Foster amassed his fortune developing insulation technology for oil rigs but court documents show his company, Ulva Ltd, which had gone into liquidation, faced legal action from one of its suppliers for the recovery of thousands of pounds. The company also owed about £800,000 in tax.

It is believed that Foster had not shared the details of his financial difficulties with anyone before the fatal events that took place on 26 August.

Police recovered CCTV footage from the charred remains of Osbaston House in Maesbrook after the blaze.

It showed a man strongly believed to be Foster firing a rifle at a horsebox as the family home and its outbuildings burnt. It was not until days after the fire, which took hold in the early hours, that the bodies were discovered in the burnt-out shell of the once luxury property, such was the intensity and scale of the blaze. Mr Sadler told mourners at Kirstie's funeral that no one could have predicted the tragedy. "All those who know the family are still numb as they struggle to put out of their minds the sad events that bring us all here today." He accepted that forgiveness could take time for some of the mourners, as "the wounds are too raw". "As Christians we are required to forgive but for many at the moment, that is a step too far – the wounds are too raw. Even if we spoke words of forgiveness with our lips, they would be shallow and meaningless.

He added: "It is hard at the moment, and no one is going to point the finger and say you must do it.

"Many make the intellectual decision to forgive someone before they have forgiven them in their hearts," Mr Sandler said. "True forgiveness cannot be rushed. Living with unforgiveness may be the honest thing to do for now."