CCTV footage shows millionaire shot family and pets before starting fires
Police to examine theory that financial woes drove Foster to murder and suicide. Mark Hughes reports
Christopher Foster murdered his wife and daughter before torching his £1.2m mansion and then killing himself, police confirmed yesterday.
CCTV footage recovered from the Shropshire country house shows the 50-year-old millionaire calmly strolling across the yard with his .22 calibre rifle in his hand as two outhouses burn in the background. By that time he had already murdered his wife and daughter and shot dead their three horses and dogs, before setting fire to the garage and stable and another outhouse.
The footage then shows him driving a horsebox, which he parks in front of the main gates of the property. He is filmed getting out of the car, still holding his rifle, and shooting two of the tyres before making his way back to the main building.
Police say Mr Foster then went inside the main building, boarded the windows and doors, and set fire to it. Shortly after this, he turned the gun on himself.
Yesterday, at a press conference in Shrewsbury, Detective Superintendent Jon Groves, from West Mercia Constabulary, said that police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Two bodies found in Osbaston House have now been identified as Mr Foster and his wife, Jillian, 49. Police say the third is almost certainly their 15-year-old daughter, Kirstie.
Det Supt Groves said: "We believe Mr Foster killed his wife and daughter before setting the fires which destroyed his home and many of its outbuildings in the early hours of Tuesday. Jill Foster died from a gunshot wound to the head before the fire was started. A cause of death has yet to be established for Mr Foster and the body we believe to be Kirstie.
"A rifle discovered near Mr and Mrs Foster's bodies on Friday has been positively identified as belonging to Christopher Foster. We believe Mr Foster took his own life after setting the house alight."
It is the first time officers have officially commented on any of the circumstances surrounding the blaze, which started at about 5am last Tuesday. Det Supt Groves said they chose to reveal the details yesterday as a way of putting an end to speculation that has surrounded the inquiry.
He added that police would be investigating whether Mr Foster was drunk at the time of the killings, and that his financial and business activities would be examined. Mr Foster had made millions as the managing director of Ulva, a business which specialised in insulation for oil rigs. But the business was put into compulsory liquidation last year and Mr Foster owed £1.8m in debts and unpaid taxes.
His home was in the hands of the liquidators and it has been reported that bailiffs turned up to repossess the house as it burnt last Tuesday morning.
Det Supt Groves refused to confirm the reports, but said police would be exploring the theory that financial woes had driven Mr Foster to murder and suicide.
The Fosters were last seen at a barbeque on Bank Holiday Monday, where the three of them smiled while posing for a photograph, before leaving at about 8.30pm. Eight hours later, Mr Foster would murder his family and burn everything they owned.
It has been suggested that Kirstie was shot dead as she chatted online in her bedroom. Police also refused to say if this was true, but did confirm that they would be monitoring the historical computer use of all three Fosters in the coming days.
Det Supt Groves also revealed that the force had interviewed Kirstie's friends and had worked closely with her private school, Ellesmere College.
The school had already released a statement saying that it hoped Kirstie would be found safe and well. Yesterday, they had to release another, mourning her death.
Brendan Wignall, the head teacher at Ellesmere, said: "Kirstie certainly had a very bright future – her personality would ensure that because that's what shines through in the end.
"She had all the skills needed to go far in life – I have no doubt she would have made a success of herself. The year group was tightly knit and she was a lovely girl, very bright and very popular.
"Kirstie had been a student at Ellesmere College since early 2006 and had successfully completed the first year of her GCSE courses. She was a happy, hard-working, and charming student.
"She took a full part in the life of the college, playing in a number of sports teams, including netball and hockey, and was always committed to the life of the school community. Her great love was horse riding, in which she enjoyed considerable success, although her natural modesty meant that she played down her prowess in this area.
"Her parents were very supportive of her and the Fosters always appeared to be a close, loving and united family. Kirstie will be remembered with love and affection by those who knew her well. She was a popular girl because of her positive, kind and cheerful disposition. She will be greatly missed."