“When men are very much in that mode of feeling...their life has been successful...if something threatens to remove all that...then for some men that loss of power and control will lead to them expressing themselves in this extreme form of violence...it’s perverse but it seems to be a way of regaining some control...it’s like saying if I can’t have all of this, if I can’t have my beloved wife and child and if I can’t have my business and my beautiful home then no one else is going to have them.”
Dr Marilyn Gregor, Researcher of suicide after homicide
It was a Bank Holiday Monday on 25 August 2008 that the Foster family enjoyed their last day together.
Christopher Foster, his wife Jill and daughter Kirstie attended the gated mansion of John Hughes. Hughes, a millionaire luxury car dealer, was having a barbecue and clay pigeon shoot. Christopher spent the afternoon doing exactly that. Later, he said to Jill:
“I’ve had enough. I want to go home.”
Despite Jill wanting to stay, they returned in her black Range Rover. Jill went to bed first. After midnight, his daughter Kirstie chatted to a friend online. That ended when Christopher turned the internet off. Soon after, Kirstie went to sleep.
Her father then fitted a silencer to a .22 rifle.
It is likely that Christopher Foster shot his wife of 21 years first. As the only other adult, she would have posed the greatest threat to Foster’s plan. He shot her in the back of her head in her bedroom.
Foster then crossed the hallway to his daughter’s bedroom.
He also shot his daughter in the back of the head. It was as if he was too ashamed to look them in the face.
Foster then calmly set about destroying everything that could be burnt.
The man who had made a fortune out of preventing fires, now created one that would obliterate all traces of his existence.
It is estimated that he flooded his mansion with 200 gallons of oil. He spread the accelerant and oil soaked rags throughout the house to ensure the fire took hold.
At 3:09AM, CCTV footage showed Mr Foster set fire to his luxury home.
He then killed all the family animals. He shot dead the dogs and the horses. As with his family, he shot all the animals in the head.
He also jammed the horsebox against the entrance gate and shot out the tyres. He takes out the keys. Both measures were to prevent anyone driving in and intervening.
He then returned home. As the flames burnt through his house, he climbed the stairs one last time. He lay down next to the wife he’d shot.
He brought a loaded gun with him. But he did not shoot himself. Nor did the flames burn him alive. Instead, smoke inhalation kills him.
Neighbours rang the emergency services. The first fire crew arrived at 4.29AM. But they first have to move the horsebox out of the way. By the time they can get close enough, there is little they can do but contain the scene. The heat from the flames was so intense that all emergency services are unable to attempt entering.
For the police, it was equally frustrating. Vital evidence was being destroyed before the investigators very eyes.
“It was like a clay oven turning everything to ash.”
Jon Groves, Detective Superintendent
But first attendees did notice gun cartridges around the grounds.
Four days later, the ruins were still smouldering. Finally, on the Friday, despite the risk of falling debris, investigators entered. Two burnt bodies are found together, ‘top to tail’. Forensic tents are erected for examinations.
It is later concluded that they’d died on the same bed and it had collapsed three floors down to the ground floor fireplace. On the Sunday, dental records identified one of the bodies as Jill Foster.
On the Monday, Kirstie’s body was found.
On the Tuesday, the unawares bailiffs arrived.
Christopher Foster had feared their arrival.
He had left them nothing to collect.