Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Death at a tranquil beauty spot

By Wena Alun Owen
BBC News website

Police car near the lane
Amy and Owen were found in a car along with their father

On a quiet country lane at Maenan, in the county of Conwy, father of two Brian Philcox took his children on their final trip - killing them and himself after his bitter marriage break-up.

Amy was seven and her brother, Owen, three.

Their bodies were found on Father's Day, less than 24-hours after their frantic mother had reported them missing.

Mr Philcox, and his wife Lyn, were separated and involved in a bitter dispute.

He had contacted protest group Fathers 4 Justice on several occasions and had been advised to join the group via their internet site to get help, support and advice, but he had not done this.

Mr Philcox, originally from Speke in Liverpool, had picked his children up for an arranged visit on Friday 13 June.

They visited Llangollen the next day - Mr Philcox, a karate expert, had told friends he planned the visit because the children were interested in trains.

Lyn McAuliffe, 38, the mother of Amy Philcox, 7 and her three-year-old brother Owen
The children's mother Lyn McAuliffe was at the inquest on Friday

The next day, all three were found dead.

It emerged that hours before their bodies were discovered, Mr Philcox had telephoned his wife and warned her: "I'll make the papers just you see."

It later transpired he had left a hoax bomb at her home at Runcorn in Cheshire.

Residents living near the house were evacuated on the Saturday night and an army bomb squad called in after the hoax device was found.

A second suspect package was sent to a "family member" police said, and this too was removed by explosives experts.

Meanwhile, in the Maenan area, criss-crossed with single-track country lanes, his Land Rover would not have seemed out of place.

It is around eight miles from the A55, turning off at Glan Conwy on the road towards Llanrwst.

The only sound is of birds, and the odd sheep bleating in the fields. It attracts visitors of all kinds, from walkers to shooting parties.

Rabbits, pheasants and ducks wander in the road.

Location map

His car was found by a passer-by on Sunday afternoon, about 500 yards across the fields from the nearest house.

Local people said they were shocked and saddened by the event, but most did not want to talk directly to the press.

Mother, Lyn McAuliffe, paid tribute to her children calling them her "beautiful little angels" and "a reason for living".

At the time she said: "Amy was a very artistic child and was labelled by her teachers at Windmill Hill Primary School as exceptional.

"She was a strong-willed little girl and loved to be in the middle of whatever was going on.

'Little angels'

"Owen was a very loving little boy and very affectionate. He would always play with my hair which he found comforting. Owen loved playing with his Thomas the Tank engine and Lazytown toys.

"Every night they would both get into bed with me and we would read books and sing together. The children loved story time in bed with me at night.

"We cannot believe what has happened and how they have so unfairly and tragically been taken away from us.

"They are our beautiful little angels and will be greatly missed and they will always be in our hearts."

Shocked locals left their own tributes to the children outside the family's home at Runcorn.

A card read: "No words can express the sympathy or the pain of the loss of your little angels.

"Their little smiles will shine forever."

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SEE ALSO
Remote, quiet spot hit by tragedy
16 Jun 08 |  North West Wales
Tributes to children found dead
16 Jun 08 |  Merseyside
Funeral of children gassed in car
26 Jun 08 |  Merseyside


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