Page last updated at 22:07 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 23:07 UK

Briton guilty of family murders

The verdict is announced

A British man has been found guilty of murdering his American wife and nine-month-old baby by a US jury.

Neil Entwistle, 29, of Worksop, Notts, fled to the UK after killing wife Rachel, 27, and Lillian Rose, at their home in Massachusetts in January 2006.

He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced for first degree murder later.

Entwistle had denied the charges and his lawyers said they would appeal against the convictions.

Jurors at Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts, had deliberated for 13 hours.

They rejected the defence that Rachel had killed their baby before turning the gun on herself, and that Entwistle had covered it up to "protect her honour".

Former IT worker Entwistle, wearing a black suit with a blue tie, looked down as the jury returned its verdicts, before closing his eyes.

Neil Entwistle, his wife Rachel and daughter Lillian Rose
Neil Entwistle had denied killing his wife and daughter

As well as being found guilty of the murders, he was convicted of two other charges: illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.

Speaking after the case, Rachel Entwistle's stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, thanked all those who had offered their support to the family.

He said: "We just want to thank everybody for their prayers, their cards and their support - it was a tremendous help over the last two and a half years."

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said it was a "true, just and right verdict".

He said that this April, Lilian Rose would have been three years old.

"She should have been here walking, talking, playing," he said, but, this had not happened because of the "reprehensible acts of Neil Entwistle".

"I condemn Neil Entwistle for his unspeakable, unforgivable acts, but I condemn Neil Entwistle for compounding the unspeakable nature of what he has done by disparaging the memory of his wife and vilifying the entire Matterazzo family by his decisions during the course of this trial," he continued.

District Attorney Gerry Leone reacts to the verdict

Joseph Flaherty, spokesman for Rachel Entwistle's family, said in a statement on the family's behalf: "We may never know why this happened but we do know that Rachel and Lillian Rose loved and trusted Neil Entwistle.

"Neil Entwistle's actions on 20 January 2006 betrayed that love and trust. Neil Entwistle will now live with his evil deeds for the rest of his natural life only to be judged again.

"Rachel and Lillian Rose left us too soon in life but they will rest in peace together, forever in each others arms and we will see them again some day. Their spirit will give us the strength to carry on."

Entwistle's parents Clifford and Yvonne made statements in which they maintained their son was innocent.

We will continue to fight for our innocent son in the hope that some day justice will prevail and our little grand-daughter Lilly will rest in peace
Clifford Entwistle

Mrs Entwistle said she still believed that her daughter-in-law had been depressed at the time she died.

Clifford Entwistle said: "We will continue to fight for our innocent son in the hope that some day justice will prevail and our little grand-daughter Lilly will rest in peace."

Entwistle's lawyer Elliot Weinstein said that "in a different environment" another jury would have reached a different result.

He said he was confident that an appeal against the conviction would succeed, claiming that the police had made "unlawful entries" when they entered the Entwistle house after the killings.

Returned gun

During the two-week trial the jury heard that Entwistle was in debt and had a secret life in which he trawled the internet for escorts and looked at websites about bankruptcy, killing and suicide.

A post-mortem examination found Mrs Entwistle had been shot in the forehead at close range, and Lillian was killed with a bullet which passed through her abdomen and lodged above her mother's left breast as she cradled her child protectively on the bed.

The defence insisted that Mrs Entwistle had been depressed and had killed her daughter, then herself.

The Neil Entwistle murder trial jury is shown a printed version of a website giving advice on killing that had been accessed from the accused's laptop
Prosecutors said Entwistle researched methods of killing

They said that Entwistle had returned the gun used to kill the pair to his father-in-law's house in an attempt to protect his wife's honour.

Entwistle's defence was that after discovering the bodies he did not call the emergency services but instead got a knife to kill himself, but could not go through with it.

Instead, he bought a one-way ticket to London and flew out without any luggage, eventually arriving at his parents' house in Worksop.

From there he wrote a letter handing over all burial arrangements to his in-laws. He did not attend his wife and daughter's funeral.

In total, 46 witness gave evidence and the trial attracted huge media interest on both sides of the Atlantic.

From the start of the case Entwistle's lawyers argued that a fair trial was impossible because the case had received so much publicity.

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