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Mother jumps off cliffs after killing 'little angel' Keira

A mother in the throes of a divorce is believed to have killed her four-year-old daughter before taking her own life by jumping off a cliff.

Keira Madden's body was discovered at her family's home on Saturday afternoon shortly before her mother Catherine (40) is thought to have jumped from cliffs near Beachy Head on the east Sussex coast of England, despite attempts to dissuade her by chaplains who patrol the notorious suicide spot.

The young girl was described as a "little angel" by friends as they laid flowers outside the family home in Felpham, near Bognor Regis, yesterday.

Neighbours described seeing Keira playing in the back garden in recent days.

"She had friends over and they all sounded so happy," one said. "They were all having a great time. It is a real shock that we will never hear that little girl again."

Another said: "We cannot believe what has happened. I would always hear the little girl playing on the trampoline. She seemed such a happy little thing."

Mrs Madden had been going through a divorce from her husband Steven, a computer expert who lives and works in Germany. He came back to Britain every three weeks for access visits with Keira.

One neighbour described a "public spat" between the parents about two months ago when Mrs Madden threw her husband's clothes out of the window and put others in suitcases and dumped them on the pavement.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sloan said Mr Madden was "devastated by what has happened".

Police confirmed that they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the two deaths. Mrs Madden ignored the chaplains at the top of the cliff and jumped at around 2pm on Saturday.

Body

At the same time, officers attempting to trace the owner of a car which had been abandoned at Birling Gap, were entering the family's detached house, where they found Keira's body. A post-mortem examination to establish the cause of the girl's death has proved inconclusive.

Keira's godparents, who were too upset to speak, placed a sunflower toy outside the family house, with the message: "Keira, you will truly be missed. Love Sarah, Ewan and Ben."

hnews@herald.ie


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