Soldier who survived IRA Hyde Park blast kills his children

Son and daughter of cavalryman who rode the horse Sefton in attack are found dead

A family last night spoke of their devastation after two children were found stabbed to death in a country lane next to the body of their father, a former Household Cavalry soldier who survived an IRA bombing at Hyde Park.

Police named the dead children as Ben Pedersen, aged seven, and his sister Freya, six, and said their father Michael, 51, appeared to have taken his own life. They were looking for no one else in connection with the deaths, Hampshire Police added.

Yesterday, it emerged that Mr Pedersen escaped injury in the 1982 nail-bomb attack that killed four soldiers and seven horses. He was riding a horse called Sefton to the Changing of the Guard at the time.

Despite suffering 34 wounds, the horse's battle for survival led to it becoming a household name and synonymous with the fight against the IRA. Just two hours after the Hyde Park attack, on 20 July 1982, another IRA bomb exploded at Regent's Park, killing a further seven servicemen.

Sefton won the Horse of the Year prize and Sgt Pedersen, who reportedly suffered from shock after the incident, collected the prize on behalf of the animal. In recent years, Mr Pedersen, who had two other children from a previous relationship, ran a haulage business with his wife.

A dog walker found the three bodies lying near a Saab 900SE convertible in a bridleway in the village of Newton Stacey, near Andover, Hampshire, at 6.15pm on Sunday.

Detectives were trying to locate relatives when Mr Pedersen's estranged wife, Erica, rang police because the children had not been returned home at the agreed time of 5pm.

Mr Pedersen, from Chertsey in Surrey, had taken the children to see his own father earlier that day, in Andover. Last night, William Clifford, 67, the children's paternal grandfather, said. "We are obviously devastated." Detective Superintendent Tony Harris said that the bodies were found lying behind the car and that, because it was such an isolated location, he did not expect anyone else would have seen anything. It is believed the deaths happened earlier that afternoon.

Det Supt Harris said: "A Home Office pathologist visited the scene and at this time it appears the children suffered fatal stab wounds and Mr Pedersen took his own life shortly afterwards."

He added: "We are treating this as an isolated incident and we do not believe anyone else was involved. It is very tragic. It's a dreadful loss of life, one of the most tragic cases I have had to deal with."

Surrey Police said later that they would refer the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission because of some previous contact with the family, although it was not revealed what that contact was. An IPCC spokeman said the referral was expected today. Neighbours of Mr Pedersen said he had separated from his wife in the past few weeks.

Officers were trying to trace relatives when Mr Pedersen's estranged wife rang the police

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

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test