“From a neighbouring family – absolutely stunned”
Inscription on floral bouquet left at the Foster family entrance.
In total, 12 fire crews dealt with the fire. And it took investigators seven days just to remove all the bodies.
On top of spent cartridges, they found a gun fitted with a silencer in the ashes.
On 2 April 2008, a two day inquest started. Those present were able to watch the house CCTV between 3:12am and 3:49.
“The footage was…unbelievable really, you couldn’t believe what you were watching and within the inquest it was absolutely silent. You could see what he was doing and it was like something out of a movie, it was unbelievable.”
Kirsty Smallman, Crime Reporter
The CCTV captured the shooting of a horse. It showed Foster setting on fire his stables. It showed Foster driving the horsebox that he used to block the emergency services. Many commented on how calmly Foster had gone about the complete destruction of everything in his life.
The inquest found that Foster had been drinking before the murders. It also found out that he was suffering from a heart defect. This was probably bought on by stress.
The coroner ultimately recorded that Christopher Foster unlawfully killed his wife and daughter before killing himself.
The inquest did reveal that perhaps mercifully, both Jill and Kirstie were asleep when Foster shot them.
Everything to live for
The coroner John Ellery said Mrs Foster and her daughter had had ‘everything to live for.’
He also offered the possibility that Foster looked like he had planned his exit. He suggested that perhaps he left the CCTV running as a witness of his actions for those remaining.
He also recommended that as the gun owning Foster had warned his GP of suicidal feelings, that GPs be informed of any application to pick up a gun license. It was a view endorsed by Foster’s surviving brother:
“we wish to highlight that preventative measures such as improved communication between GPs and police forces firearms officers in the future could help stop a similar tragedy happening to another family...We are encouraged to hear about the steps that are being taken to redress this issue.”
Andrew Foster, brother of Christopher
The Association of Chief Police Officers and the British Medical Association announced planned guidelines to improve communications between GPs and police forces.
Christopher Foster’s crime, though horrific, is far from unique. The killing of one’s family and then oneself may only represent 6% of homicides in England and Wales, but it is common enough that there is a term for it: The ‘Family Annihilator’;
“The domestic homicide perpetrator is more likely ...to be if you like respectable in some ways, slightly more educated, in employment etc. And they are men with a great deal to lose a great deal invested in their relationships, jobs, homes, children. And this terrible event of homicide followed by suicide is frequently triggered by events which are causing them to lose those important things in their lives.”
Dr Marilyn Gregory, Sheffield University
One theory is that once the perpetrator decides on suicide, they are free to kill without consequence. Others believe that the suicide is only set upon after the homicides as intense feelings of regret overcome the perpetrator.
The Foster family were laid to rest on 19 December 2008. The relatives decided to hold separate funerals. The first was for Kirstie and Jill.
A few hours later, their killer was buried.
Present was his surviving brother. Andrew later stated he had no interest in claiming any stake in his brother’s estate. Creditors had until September 2010 to put in their claims.
The site where the Foster family house stood has now been cleared.
In 2012 the property went up for sale. It had planning permission for another luxury three storey mansion to be built.