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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 09:41 GMT
'Killer' father faced trial
Phoebe, Emma and Lily Hicks
Phoebe and Emma were found at the house. Lily was in the car.
A father who killed his ex-partner and their two daughters was due to stand trial accused of assaulting her, it has emerged.

Richard Hicks, 37, was due to appear at Grimsby Magistrates' Court on 19 February for a pre-trial hearing.

He had been charged with assaulting his former partner Joanne Catley, 33.

Ms Catley and her daughters, Phoebe, four, and Emma, two, died on Tuesday at their Lincolnshire home. Mr Hicks' body was found below the Humber Bridge.

The charge against Mr Hicks read that "on 22 November, 2003, at Stallingborough you assaulted Joanne Catley by beating her".

He pleaded not guilty to the offence on 25 November last year and the matter was due to go for trial, a spokeswoman for Grimsby Magistrates' Court confirmed.

The girls' father Richard Hicks pictured at a party
Detectives are continuing to investigate the chef's background, in particular if he had any relevant criminal convictions or court hearings.

A Humberside Police spokeswoman said any relevant information would be included in a file and handed over to the coroner.

"The coroner will then use that information to come to his verdict about what caused the deaths and what led up to the deaths," she added.

The bodies of Phoebe and Emma were discovered with that of Ms Catley in the kitchen of their home in the village of Healing, near Grimsby.

Humberside Police revealed all three died from multiple stab wounds.

Post mortem tests on Richard Hicks, who was discovered dead in the River Humber, show he died from multiple injuries, consistent with a fall.

Violent relationship

The three bodies were found after one-year-old sister Lily was discovered unharmed in the rear of a Nissan Micra car abandoned on Tuesday night close to the Humber Bridge.

She is now in the care of social services.

Detectives are working on the assumption that Mr Hicks murdered his ex-partner and two daughters before throwing himself off the Humber Bridge.

Ms Catley had left a violent relationship with Mr Hicks to start a new life in Healing.

It is understood that police had been called to the couple's pub, The Green Man, which they jointly ran in Stallingborough, on at least two occasions in recent weeks.

The couple split up about two weeks ago and Ms Catley moved to Healing with her three children. Mr Hicks moved to Grimsby.

On Wednesday, friends of the family confirmed Mr Hicks could become violent and had hit Ms Catley before.

A restraining order was taken out against him, according to friends.


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