Brother 'will never come to terms' with mansion deaths

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The Independent Online

The brother of a ruined millionaire who murdered his wife and their teenage daughter today said he would never come to terms with what had happened.

Andrew Foster was speaking for the first time, following the funeral of Jill, 49, and 15-year-old Kirstie Foster in Maesbrook, Shropshire.

Businessman Christopher Foster, 50, is believed to have shot them both dead in the family mansion before torching the property and turning the gun on himself.

In a written statement released to the media Mr Foster said: "Today we have finally been able to lay Jill and Kirstie to rest in a peaceful and dignified manner.

"We will never come to terms with what has happened and will never understand why Chris took Jill and Kirstie's lives away from them.

"We can only hope and pray that they now rest in peace."

Mr Foster and his mother Enid, 78, were among around 100 mourners who poured into St John's Church in Maesbrook today to pay their final respects to Jill and Kirstie.

Two coffins, adorned with pink and green floral arrangements, were wheeled into the church as the congregation followed.

Family and friends - including many of Kirstie's peers from Ellesmere College - filled the church to capacity, with some forced to stand in the churchyard listening to the service on a loudspeaker system.

The sombre scenes were played out just a short distance from the £1.2m home the Foster family once shared.

After the devastating blaze in August police recovered CCTV footage from the charred remains of Osbaston House in Maesbrook, Shropshire, which showed a man strongly believed to be Mr Foster firing a rifle at a horsebox as the family home and its outbuildings burned.

It was not until days after the fire - which took hold in the early hours of 26 August - that the bodies were discovered in the burnt out shell of the once luxury property, such was the scale of the blaze.

Today's service was led by the Venerable Tony Sadler, formerly the Archdeacon of Walsall, who delivered an address to the congregation.

He said: "No-one could have predicted that such a tragedy as this could happen in the depth of this beautiful Shropshire countryside.

"All those who know the family are still numb as they struggle to put out of their minds the sad events that bring us all here today.

"As we remember Jill and her 15-year-old daughter Kirstie, our thoughts and prayers surround all who mourn their loss, especially Jill's brother Roger, Jill's sister Ann, her husband, James and their son Josh."

He went on to speak of how much Jill and Kirstie had loved living in Maesbrook, after moving to the rural village four years ago.

Kirstie was a "popular girl", he said, who loved horses and had her heart set on studying at the Equestrian College at Gloucester University.

Referring to the brutal way their lives were ended, he added: "The sadness of these latest events must not diminish the happiness of their earlier lives together.

"There were clearly many happy times together and we give thanks to God for them and for all that was good in their lives.

"But now - for ourselves: We are sad and we are hurting. Part of the pain is caused by our realising that young lives have been cut short before their time.

"More so, I believe the hurt comes as a result of our extreme difficulty in finding forgiveness in our hearts for what has happened."

The priest accepted that forgiveness may take some time, as "the wounds are too raw".

He said: "As Christians we are required to forgive - but for many at the moment, that is a step too far - the wounds are too raw.

"Even if we spoke words of forgiveness with our lips, they would be shallow and meaningless."

He added: "It's hard at the moment - and no-one is going to point the finger and say you must do it.

"Many make the intellectual decision to forgive someone before they have forgiven them in their hearts.

"True forgiveness cannot be rushed. Living with unforgiveness may be the honest thing to do for the moment."

Bringing his sermon to a close, he said: "I didn't know Jill and Kirstie personally, but it may just be that they will want to forgive Christopher for themselves - and they will want you too to be forgiving.

"So, we thank God for all that was good in Jill and Kirstie's life - and there was much to be thankful for.

"Each of you will have your own special memories of being with them. Give thanks for those times.

"Many of those occasions will also have been shared with Christopher.

"We remember him too and his mother Enid and his brother Andrew and his family as they mourn his loss.

"We commend them all to your prayers and to God's mercy and love now and always."

The congregation heard that Jill's family plans to set up a charity trust in Kirstie's memory - The Kirstie Foster Trust to Assist Riding for the Disabled.

A separate service for Mr Foster is to be held at the same church later today.

Mrs Foster and Kirstie were laid to rest in a shared grave in the churchyard while Mr Foster will be buried in a separate plot next to them.