UK

Bereaved family 'torn apart' by Tunisian attack

Undated handout photo taken from the Twitter feed of Danny Clifford who has taken to social media in a bid to find Denis and Elaine Thwaites Image copyright PA
Image caption The Thwaites' daughter Lindsey says she will "never get over this horrendous tragedy"

The family of a couple killed in the mass shootings at a Tunisian beach resort say their lives have been "torn apart".

Pensioners Denis and Elaine Thwaites, from Blackpool, were among 30 British tourists killed by Islamist gunman Seifeddine Rezgui in June 2015.

The couple's son-in-law Daniel Clifford told an inquest their lives had been taken by an "evil, twisted" ideology.

Mr Thwaites, a former Birmingham City footballer, was "the best", he said.

Mr Thwaites, 70, was shot in the chest and Mrs Thwaites, 69, was shot in the chest and pelvis when Rezgui opened fire at the five-star Rui Imperial Marhaba Hotel, near Sousse.

Their daughter, Lindsey, sat quietly beside her husband as he read a statement on her behalf at London's Royal Courts of Justice.

"I idolised my dad, looked up to him and loved him unconditionally. He was my shining light, my star," he read.

"I will never get over this horrendous tragedy of losing both parents in this vicious and callous attack. We will find a new normal with them both in our hearts and minds forever."

Relatives of other British victims sat at the back of the court and wiped away tears as Mr Clifford spoke.

Image caption Thirty of the 38 people killed by a gunman on a Tunisian beach were British

Paying tribute to the Thwaites, Mr Clifford said his mother-in-law was like a "second mum and a great friend" to him.

He added: "She was beautiful inside and out, elegant and looked her best without even trying."

Mr Clifford said: "Lindsey, myself and our family's lives have been torn apart due to an ideology that is both evil and twisted.

"They may have taken the best but they will never break the love we shared as a family."

'George Best admired him'

Describing his father-in-law as "just the best", he said: "Lindsey and Elaine were his world and he would do everything to keep them safe."

The family had booked a surprise birthday holiday to the Dominican Republic in November 2015 to celebrate Mrs Thwaites's 70th birthday and Mr Clifford's 40th birthday, which were two days apart.

Mr Thwaites broke into the Birmingham City first team at the age of 16 in 1961, and turned professional the following year.

The winger played several games in the First Division at the start of the 1962-63 season.

Image caption Former Birmingham City footballer Denis Thwaites retired from professional football in 1972

His last appearance came in the 1971-72 season, and he retired from professional football in 1972 and went on to work at a local hospital.

Mr Clifford recalled a tribute from friend and team-mate Malcolm Page who said Mr Thwaites once played football with George Best on a beach in Majorca and "ran him ragged".

In Mr Page's words, the court was told: "George Best was an admirer of Denis's skills.

"Denis was much more than that, he was the best friend and colleague anyone could have."

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