'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.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones