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
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'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