By Pat Hurst and Karl Mansfield
Tuesday June 17 2008
A man who gassed himself and two of his children on Father’s Day was going through a break-up with his wife, it was revealed last night.
Karate expert Brian Philcox (52) had been in touch with Fathers 4 Justice before driving to a remote beauty spot in north Wales to kill himself, seven-year-old daughter Amy and three-year-old son Owen.
All three were found dead in his Land Rover Freelander near Llanrwst yesterday.
Police said they died from carbon monoxide poisoning through inhaling car exhaust fumes and confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
Army bomb squad experts were earlier called to the family home in Runcorn, Cheshire after the discovery of a suspect device.
Residents were evacuated on Saturday night but the device was later found to be a hoax.
A second suspect package was sent to a “family member” police said, and this too was removed by explosives experts.
It has been taken to an area of waste ground for examination.
It is not yet known when Mr Philcox took the children from their mother, Evelyn — known locally as Lynn — or what sparked the killings. Police described her as being “devastated”. She is being comforted by family and friends.
Many neighbours were too distressed to speak about the events of the weekend. But one confirmed that Mr Philcox had been undergoing a bitter dispute with his wife who is also from the Runcorn area.
Teddy bears and flowers were tied to railings outside the family home, a single-storey, bungalow-type terrace on the Windmill Hill estate.
Shocked locals hugged each other as they talked on doorsteps in the sunshine, watching as police forensics teams wearing blue gloves came in and out of the house.
One card tied to the railings had a child’s drawing of Lynn, Amy and Owen. Tied to flowers, one card said: “Good night little angels.”
Another card read: “No words can express the sympathy or the pain of loss of your little angels. Their little smiles will shine forever.”
A lone police officer stood guard outside but other police were seen close to another house believed to be that of relatives of the victims.
Mr Philcox, originally from the Speke area of Liverpool, had been practising karate for more than 30 years, reaching sixth dan black belt and winning many competitions.
He also held various senior positions within martial arts organisations in the UK.
He was named Man of the Year in 2005 in awards for local worthy citizens in Runcorn.
This is understood to be in recognition for his charity work following the death of his first wife Jan. Mr Philcox also had other children with other partners.
Matt O’Connor, from Fathers 4 Justice, said: “This is yet another tragic case that demonstrates how family breakdown is an unfolding national tragedy for families and children.
“Fathers love their children. Killing them is against the paternal instinct, but whilst some people are driven to scaling bridges out of desperation, others see a future so bleak, and fear the living bereavement of losing their children so much, that they turn away from hope,” he said.
– Pat Hurst and Karl Mansfield