Tributes left after Braintree gun tragedy

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The Independent Online

Flowers and cuddly toys have been left as tributes outside the house where a woman and her toddler daughter were shot dead.

Officers at the scene of the killing in Bartram Avenue, Braintree, Essex, said they had been taking offerings from well-wishers inside the police cordon throughout the morning.

Christine Chambers, 38, and two-year-old Shania were found dead early yesterday following a stand-off between police and a gunman inside their home.

Among the notes was one from neighbour Karran Tomlinson. It read: "RIP Chrissie. We have had our ups and downs but you will be missed."

Mrs Tomlinson said: "Chrissie had an infectious laugh. If you were ever having a bad day, just hearing that laugh would cheer you up.

"We had a small falling-out a few days ago. I was planning to go round and make up with her on Monday but now I will never get the chance.

"It makes you realise how petty some things are and I wish we could have our time again."

Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: "Everybody is still in shock. She was somebody who we all knew and could talk to and we can't believe she has gone."

Ms Chambers' brother, Stuart Flitt, had regularly stayed at the house to protect his sister after she received threatening text messages.

He said: "The police didn't seem to take her seriously and we feel they could have done more."

Ms Chambers' 10-year-old daughter escaped from the house and alerted family members who called police.

A man is currently under police guard at a nearby hospital after undergoing treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

A police spokesman was unable to confirm whether detectives had been able to interview him. However, officers are not looking for anybody else.

The suspect has been named locally as David Oakes, 50, a former partner of Ms Chambers. He is the father of Shania and the couple were fighting a legal battle over custody.

Mrs Tomlinson said: "He was a heavily built man, well over 6ft and bulky. He didn't have a job, as far as I could tell.

"He had a short temper and we would often hear shouting from next door.

"When Chrissie was on her own, the kids had everything they wanted. There were toys everywhere. When he was around they weren't allowed any toys at all."

She added that Mr Oakes lived on a caravan park near Witham, Essex, but regularly visited the Braintree home over the last four years.

Residents at the caravan park were not prepared to speak today.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, head of the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, has confirmed that the force had been called to the home on a number of occasions over the past two years following reports of trouble.

An inquiry into the police's handling of the complaints is under way, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.