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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK


Funeral for 'tragic' family

Kellie, Joe and Danny: Believed killed by their father

More than 150 mourners have attended the funeral of a family who died in what police believe was a "tragic" domestic killing.

Police believe Peter Stafford, 30, stabbed wife Helen and children Kellie, seven, Daniel, six, and Joe, two, before hanging himself from a bannister of their home in Sparkhill, Birmingham.

The bodies were found by police two weeks ago, after the children's grandfather could get into the house.

[ image: Bodies were all found at the family home]
Bodies were all found at the family home
The Rev Peter Babington, assistant priest at St James the Great Church in Shirley, near Birmingham, told mourners not to look for an explanation for what had happened or seek to blame anyone for the killings.

"None of us can really imagine what leads anyone to take the lives of their family and themselves," he said.

"Many people are, I know, feeling a deep anger about what happened, but in this I think we must take our lead from the immediate family, whose wishes from the first have been that Helen, Pete, Kellie, Dan and Joe should be together now.

"It is heart-breaking to see these five coffins together, but it is also a sign to all of us to look with compassion and not with blame on this tragedy."

'Always smiling''

"Helen and Peter lived for their children," he said. "They were their whole world and nothing else mattered.

"They were a very happy family so it is with an almost unbearable sense of love that we remember them, as we face their tragic loss."

The priest described Mrs Stafford, a 27-year-old creche helper, as "happy and friendly" and her husband as someone "who was always smiling", easy-going and willing to help others.

The five coffins, all topped with flowers, were taken away from the church in three hearses.

The 45-minute funeral service, attended by relatives and police officers, was followed by a private service at a nearby crematorium.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned into the deaths by Birmingham Coroner Dr Richard Whittington.

The massacre has been blamed on money worries and depression suffered by Mr Stafford.

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