- 24 апреля 2013, 21:04
Father, son and two daughters found dead in quarry after mother reportedly developed a crush on another man
A father found dead with the bodies of his three young children was splitting up with his wife after she developed a "crush" on a university lecturer, an inquest has heard.
Ceri Fuller was said to have understood about the split and to have talked it over with his wife Ruth before leaving their home with their three children.
Fuller, 35, Samuel, 12, Rebecca, eight, and seven-year-old Charlotte were found dead four days later in a disused quarry at Poles Coppice in Pontesbury Hill, Shropshire.
Post-mortem examinations found that all three children had suffered severe neck wounds thought to have been inflicted with a hunting knife.
Fuller, a production line supervisor at a paper mill, was found dead at the foot of an 18-metre-high cliff at the quarry with a fractured skull and other injuries consistent with a fall from height. A fingerprint on a knife discovered at the quarry matched his.
Mrs Fuller's sister, Joanna Ballard, told the inquest in Wem, Shropshire, that the couple were splitting up.
She said she had been called to their home in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, on 12 July last year – the day Fuller left with the children.
Ballard was told that her sister had tried to kill herself and found her in a "zoned-out, edgy and anxious state". She said Mrs Fuller told her she had a crush on her tutor on an Open University humanities course, Mark Lindley-Highfield.
In her statement, Ballard said: "She had told me that she had a romantic crush on Mark, but she saw it as a schoolgirl crush and had no intention to take it any further."
However, Mrs Fuller told her sister that she and her husband were "splitting up". They had talked about it and he understood.
In written evidence submitted to the inquest, Lindley-Highfield said he had sent six texts to Mrs Fuller on 11 and 12 July, receiving five messages in reply.
In one of the texts, Mrs Fuller had referred to a mid-life crisis, prompting Lindley-Highfield to remind her of the boundaries between a student and tutor.
Fuller's Land Rover Freelander was seen parking up near the quarry on 13 July. Three days later, after police had launched a hunt for the missing father and children, the four bodies were found.
Pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar told the hearing all three children had suffered a "large incised wound" to the throat.
Samuel died from the effects of the single wound to his neck, while his sisters both died from multiple stab injuries, including wounds to the chest. Rebecca had been stabbed five times in the chest, and her sister had suffered four chest wounds, the inquest was told.
During harrowing evidence, Kolar confirmed that Samuel and Rebecca had also suffered "defensive" injuries to their hands.
At the time of the deaths, West Mercia police said one line of inquiry was that Fuller had killed his children before taking his own life.
Friends of Fuller told the inquest he was a reserved family man who went walking in the country with colleagues.
Workmate Alan Norton said Fuller had appeared to be his normal self before he failed to attend work for a night shift on 12 July. "I didn't notice anything different about him from his usual self and I didn't notice any changes in his behaviour or personality," Norton said.
Peter Morgan, whose statement was also read to the inquest, said: "I thought him to be a reserved type of person, very mild-mannered and softly-spoken.
"I am not aware of any reason as to why he may have taken his own life or that of his children."
The inquest continues.