Student, 18, questioned after parents found shot dead

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The Independent Online

A student was being questioned by murder squad detectives yesterday after his parents were found shot dead in their bungalow.

A student was being questioned by murder squad detectives yesterday after his parents were found shot dead in their bungalow.

Brian Blackwell, 18, who is due to start reading medicine at Nottingham University in two weeks' time, was arrested at 2am yesterday, 10 hours after his parents, Brian, 72, a retired accountant, and his wife Jacqueline, 61, a former antique shop owner, were found dead at the family's three-bedroom bungalow in the village of Melling, Merseyside.

A post-mortem examination on the couple is due to take place today. Sources said that Mr Blackwell had been shot through the head and that a shotgun had been retrieved.

Neighbours thought the couple had gone on holiday to their property in Spain. Their disappearance had raised no suspicions until a neighbour tried to post a parcel through their letter box at 4.30pm on Sunday and detected a strange smell. Police broke in and found the couple's bodies in the living room. Their son, Brian, was subsequently arrested at a flat in Childwall, south Liverpool.

The Blackwells were remembered yesterday for their intense pride in their son, whom they nicknamed "Brains". He was known in the village for his dedication to his studies.

It is uncertain whether the couple were alive to hear of his A-level results last month - As in mathematics, biology, chemistry and Spanish from Liverpool College public school.

Mrs Blackwell had great aspirations for Brian, an only child. Margaret Smith, 73, a neighbour, said: "I once asked her, 'Is he going to be a doctor? She said, 'No, he's going to be a surgeon.' He was brilliant young man, extremely clever. He just studied and studied."

Brian Christian, the 18-year-old's headteacher at Liverpool College, said Brian had seemed "very happy" when he arrived, alone, to pick up his A-level results on 19 August. He added: "Brian was popular with his peers and popular with his teachers, who knew him well."

Mrs Smith said Brian was a good tennis player who had been coached at the David Lloyd centre in Kirkby, five miles from Melling. He spent time in the United States this year. Mrs Smith said the Blackwells had moved to the village 16 years ago. "When Brian was young he wasn't allowed to play with many other children," she said. "He had the best of everything but he has not had any friends around him."