Man found dead with son 'was going through bitter split'

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A man found dead with his young son had been going through an acrimonious split with his partner, neighbours said today.

Chris Hall, thought to have been in his late 30s, was found with his son, also called Chris, aged about five, at their home in Queen's Road, Poole, yesterday.

Police said no one else is being sought in connection with the incident and the cause of the deaths is not yet known.

Neighbours have spoken of their shock and distress at the deaths of the father and son, who were known as Big Chris and Little Chris.

The house remained cordoned off by police today as forensic officers carried out examinations of the scene.

Neighbour Phil Haley, 38, said Mr Hall had been incredibly upset by the split with partner Rachel Edwards.

He added that Mr Hall had also been experiencing "legal problems" with the cafe he ran with Ms Edwards at Nuffield Industrial Estate in Poole.

Mr Haley, a sales representative for a drinks company, said he had become good friends with Mr Hall through walking his dogs with him.

He said Mr Hall had two Alsatians and an Alaskan malamute which he would walk every day in the park with his son, who went to Courthill First School.

He added: "He doted on his little boy, he meant everything to him. He was a lovely little boy, it's absolutely tragic, I don't know how they are going to explain it to the other kids at the school."

Mr Haley said that Ms Edwards left Mr Hall in March or April this year, and that Mr Hall was distraught at the prospect of losing his son.

He said: "It was a very difficult split-up, a lot of issues surrounding it that made it very difficult for Big and Little Chris at home.

"She did end up with someone else, that was the trigger that upset Big Chris. He wasn't selfish enough to know that that was the only reason for the split-up."

He added: "He was a very good man. Before people think he was evil, that was the last thing he was. He had a lot of morals, a lot of people liked him.

"He must have felt that to get himself and Little Chris out of the situation he was in, that was what he felt he had to do. I'm not saying that was the right thing but that must be how he felt.

"He must have felt it was what he needed to do to protect Chris because doors kept being closed in his face and he felt his son was being taken away from him.

"There was a custody battle going on, there were lots of things going on in his life and Little Chris was getting very upset about things.

"This never happened in public, it all happened behind closed doors."

He said the split had been worse with the problems surrounding his business: "They had a business, a cafe in the industrial estate. It was in his name but she ran it. There were problems with the legality of it."

Mr Haley said Mr Hall was a fitness fanatic who spent a lot of time in the gym.

He said: "He was a big guy, well-groomed. He was down the gym all the time, working out.

"He looked after himself, didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't gamble, he wasn't a womaniser, he was an all-round good person."

Another neighbour, who didn't want to be named, said: "It's a real shock. They seemed like a nice family but you never know what goes on behind closed doors."

Another neighbour added: "People who do things like that should be brought back to life and killed again."