Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Gassed children unlawfully killed

Amy and Owen Philcox
Amy and Owen were found in a car along with their father

A father killed himself and his two young children after splitting from their mother, an inquest has heard.

Verdicts of unlawful killing were recorded on Amy Philcox, seven, and Owen, three, from Cheshire, who were gassed to death with engine fumes.

Brian Philcox had drugged his children with chloroform before pumping fumes into their Land Rover, which was found parked in a Conwy Valley beauty spot.

A suicide verdict was recorded on Mr Philcox at Llandudno Magistrates Court.

Mr Philcox had collected the children from their home in Runcorn, Cheshire in an arranged access visit last June, the inquest heard.

But after drugging them with chloroform from a padded envelope, he attached a vacuum cleaner pipe to the exhaust of his Land Rover in an isolated spot near Llanrwst in north Wales.

The short lives they had were imprinted on your heart and they will endure with you
Coroner John Gittins to the children's mother

The trio were found dead, poisoned by carbon monoxide fumes, sitting next to each other on the back seat of Mr Philcox's car on Father's Day.

The 52-year-old karate expert had separated from his wife in May 2008 after eight years of marriage.

The children's mother, Lyn McAuliffe, 38, from Runcorn, Cheshire, wept as details of the deaths were read.

Offering his condolences, acting coroner for north Wales central John Gittins told her: "When Brian Philcox took Amy and Owen from you he thought they would be lost to you forever - but he failed.

Brian Philcox
Karate expert Brian Philcox had sent texts before the children died

"The short lives they had were imprinted on your heart and they will endure with you.

"They will be part of you every single moment of every single day."

The pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers said both the children had adult traces of the sleeping drug Temazepam.

He added they showed no signs of injury or struggle and would have been deeply asleep before the carbon monoxide killed them.

Ms McAuliffe had begun divorce proceedings against Mr Philcox by June 13 last year when he took the children during an access day away.

The hearing was told that he knew he would be unable to see them on Father's Day and so hatched a plan to kill them.


Geraldine Craven reads a statement from her sister Lyn McAuliffe about life without her children

When he failed to return the children to Ms McAuliffe by the agreed time, he sent her a text message, claiming he was having problems with his car.

"He kept saying 'There's nothing I can do, it is out of my control, I am sorry.'

"He threw me because I didn't know what he was talking about. I thought he was talking about the car," she said.

She said Mr Philcox had previously sent her a text saying: "I will have my day".

"He used to say a lot of things like that. He played mind games."

At quarter to eleven that night, he sent her a text telling her to get his spare key from his bin and enter his house.

She phoned the police but sent her sister to the house, which was close to the home Ms McAuliffe shared with her mother.

Mr Philcox had left an envelope glued to the kitchen work top, which was supposed to trigger an improvised bomb, but it failed to detonate.

The inquest also heard he had sent another bomb in the post to Ms McAuliffe's eldest son.

She told the inquest that Mr Philcox had intimidated and even threatened to kill his stepson, and that his bullying treatment was the reason behind her divorcing him.

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