'Perfect family' killings mystery


Detectives were tonight trying to establish a motive for why a
devoted husband and father would kill his "perfect family" before taking
his own life.

Richard Smith is thought to have killed his wife Clair and their children Ben, nine, and Aaron, one, before taking his own life at the home they shared in Pudsey, near Leeds.

Police have launched a murder inquiry, but have said they are not looking for anyone else, after the bodies were found in a fire-damaged upstairs bedroom yesterday afternoon.

Mr Smith, 37, who worked for a shopfitting firm, and his 36-year-old wife are thought to have moved into the modern stone-built house a few months ago.

The tragedy appears to be another incident involving a father killing his family. It is thought there is no obvious motive for Smith's actions.

The bodies were removed from the house and taken away in a private ambulance today. Officers are trying to establish how each family member died.

Relatives and neighbours spoke of their shock as news of the killings became public.

Family friend Sara Turnbull was in tears as she left flowers at the police cordon.

The message on her bouquet said: "You were such a beautiful family. All our love to you. We can't believe you are all gone."

Her husband Dean said the families had known each other for 15 years and been on a number of holidays together.

Mr Turnbull said: "We can't take it in. All we know is they are a lovely family, lovely two kids and we're in shock.

"We hadn't seen them for a while but we saw them last week. I went out for a drink a week or so ago and I saw Richard and Clair out.

"I said we'll come round and see you. We haven't seen you for a while.

"We went to their new house and it was superb. Brilliant. We really enjoyed ourselves."

Mr Turnbull said: "There was no sense of any problems."

With the Turnbulls was another friend, Sheral Heights, who said the Smiths were her son's godparents.

She was in tears as she left flowers, saying she was "devastated" but did not want to say any more.

Mr Smith's cousin Gary Tempest said: "It is so unbelievable this has happened.

"They were the perfect family."

Asked whether Mr Smith could have hurt his family, Mr Tempest said: "I don't believe that for a minute.

"He thought the world of them."

He said his cousin was football mad and had no money worries. He said they both had good jobs. It is thought he coached junior football teams.

"I've known Richard all my life. There's never been any bad things - arguing or anything."

Friend Sarah Wilson was in tears as she laid flowers.

She said: "I can't imagine what's made this happen, I really can't.

"I just can't believe it, I just can't."

She went on: "They were just ordinary. I'm making that sound like a bad thing, and it's not."

She said she once held Aaron in her arms as her sister was a neighbour, and added: "Such beautiful little boys. Both of them."

Ms Wilson continued: "They were just like anybody else. Just fine.

"There was just no inkling that anything like this would happen. Nothing."

Part of Sheridan Way where the house is located was initially cordoned off amid fears that dangerous chemicals might be present.

The tragedy comes just days after a police officer who had been dismissed by his force attacked his family before apparently killing himself.

Toby Day is thought to have killed his primary school teacher wife Samantha and youngest daughter Genevieve, six, in a frenzied attack at their home just days after he was sacked by Leicestershire Police.

Day also attacked their other children Kimberley, 15, and Adam, 13, before taking his own life at their home in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on Thursday.

Inquests into the deaths were opened and adjourned by a coroner today.

Kimberley and Adam were taken to Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham where they remain in a stable condition.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk