Wales politics

MP calls for action on 'family annihilation'

Ben and Patricia Philpotts
Image caption Ben and Patricia Philpotts were found dead in their home following a fire

Action is needed on cases where a parent kills their partner and children then takes their own life, said an MP.

Cardiff North MP Jonathan Evans said there was a history of domestic violence in most cases which had sometimes not been taken seriously.

He led a debate on the subject after a brother of a constituent killed his own son and started a fire which killed the child's mother and himself.

The UK government said it was committed to tackling domestic abuse.

Mr Evans introduced the Westminster Hall debate on what he called "family annihilation".

He said it was an American term applied to cases where a parent, "almost invariably a man", murders his partner and his own children before going on to kill himself.

Mr Evans said Don Philpotts had come to his constituency surgery to tell him how his brother Harold Philpotts had bludgeoned his own son Ben to death before setting fire to the family home in Cornwall, killing the child's mother Patricia.

He died of burn injuries eight days after the house in Trevarrian burnt down in January 2010.

Image caption Kim Buckley, Kayleigh Buckley and Kimberley Buckley died in a fire started by Carl Mills

During what Mr Evans described as a "grim debate", he welcomed the home secretary's announcement in September that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary is being required to look at the performance of individual forces in England and Wales to examine the way they approach, investigate and record cases of domestic violence.

According to Mr Evans, research has shown there is a history of domestic violence in most cases of family annihilation but it "had not been taken seriously" in some instances.

Responding to the debate, crime prevention minister Norman Baker outlined the UK government's commitment to addressing domestic abuse and protecting "the most vulnerable", stressing that lessons must not only be learned but also "acted on".

He referred to the case of the Buckley family in Cwmbran in 2012 as he explained that a review is being undertaken locally into these murders, and all others of cases of domestic homicide.

Carl Mills was jailed in July for a minimum of 30 years for murdering Kim Buckley, 46, her daughter Kayleigh, 17, and six-month old granddaughter Kimberley, on her first night home from hospital, in a fire.

The judge told Mills he condemned the family to "an agonising death - you have shown no remorse".

According to Mr Baker, the Home Office will in due course be releasing a document which will collate the findings of the review and all other reviews of family annihilation.

Mr Evans called on ministers to build on the home secretary's review by creating a cross-government initiative to:

  • Encourage better risk assessment and information sharing between health professionals, the police, and members of the public who may be at risk
  • Promote better statistical information about cases of family annihilation
  • Examine the concept of undertaking psychological autopsies in cases where the perpetrator of family murders has committed suicide by undertaking a full assessment of the history of that person, including questioning family members
  • Strengthen gun control legislation to ensure that no person with a history of domestic abuse or suffering from mental illness can get access to lethal weapons

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