Man held after family of four is killed at home

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A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after four of his relatives - two adults and two young children - were found dead at a house in Newcastle.

Reports last night suggested the victims had all been stabbed and had been found in separate rooms.

The bodies were found at 9.30am yesterday in the semi-detached house at Hawthorn Gardens in the Kenton district. Neighbours said a man and woman in their mid-thirties had lived in the suburban house since 2000 with a boy, aged nine, and a girl, aged five. The children's parents were separated, reports said.

Police found the bodies after a tip-off and immediately began a search for a man believed to have been armed. They arrested a man near the address of the children's paternal grandparents, eight miles from the murder scene.

Neighbours said a Ford Focus was blocked by three police cars as it drove into Huntley Crescent in Blaydon, near Gateshead. A man was ordered out of the car and led away in handcuffs.

One eyewitness said: "There was a riot van and three police cars in the street. The cops surrounded his car and I saw a man bent over the bonnet in handcuffs."

Much police activity centred on a flat in Rydal Road, Gosforth, where Elizabeth Sobo, 32, had been living with her two children and her mother. Neighbours said the four had recently moved to an address in Kenton after Ms Sobo became pregnant and that the flat had since been occupied by her brother, Yemi Sobo.

Neighbours spoke of intense police activity at Hawthorn Gardens shortly after 9am. Officers cordoned off both entrances to the street after initial reports of possible deaths at the house. Neighbours said uniformed officers and detectives were in positions around a house.

One neighbour, Elizabeth Cessford, said the children had often enjoyed trampolining in the back garden. "They looked a very happy, contented young family and I can't imagine what led to this or who on earth would wish to hurt them," she said.

The Sobos are related to a respected medical clinician, Dr Abayomi Sobo, 75, who lives with his wife, Muriel, in Ponteland, Northumberland. He is a trustee of Mental Health Concern, a not-for-profit charity committed to enabling people with mental illness to live ordinary lives. The charity is based in Northumberland. Dr Sobo, president of a local Lions Club, has worked as a medical consultant in England, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. He and his wife are known to have had four children. Mrs Sobo, another well-known community figure in Ponteland, said from the door of their home yesterday: "He is strong. We will deal with this."

Police also visited the home of Yinka Sobo, a furniture dealer aged in his forties with a young daughter, who lives in Newcastle's affluent Jesmond suburb.

Detective Superintendent Steve Wade, who is leading the inquiry, said: "We need to contact anyone who was a regular visitor to this house or visited the house recently."