Sunday 18 February 2018

Video: Troubled dad who killed three children no villain, says father-in-law

THE father-in-law of Ceri Fuller, who killed his three children before commiting suicide, writes open letter absolving his son-in-law, saying there are "no villains" in the tragedy.

The father-in-law of Ceri Fuller, who stabbed his three children to death before throwing himself down a disused quarry, has written a remarkable letter absolving him, saying that the murders were “not an act of malice or spite”.

Ron Tocknell, an illustrator, said that he was “proud” of Fuller and whilst no-one might ever know what drove him to killing the children, he was a good father who raised them with "love and joy and laughter".

Fuller, 35, is believed to have stabbed son Sam, 12, and daughters Rebecca, eight, and Charlotte, seven, to death in secluded woodland 75 miles from their home before jumping 65ft to his death.

Yet Mr Tocknell, the father of the children's mother Ruth, 35, insisted there were "no villains" in the episode.

In a moving 1,800-word letter, he wrote: "Perhaps some of you feel anger toward him. You know him only as the man who did this.

"I know him as the man who fell in love with my daughter. I know him as the man who worked tirelessly to support the family he worshipped.

"I know him as the man who, together with my daughter, raised my beautiful grandchildren in an environment of love and joy and laughter.

"He and Ruth taught them responsibility so that they always knew why they couldn't always get their own way and they were able to accept these boundaries with understanding instead of resentment.

"When he played with them, it was never as an adult amusing the children. He would surrender himself to the joys of playing as if he, too, were a child.

"When he had to address misbehaviour, he did so with reason and never with punishment.

"Perhaps we will never understand the torment in Ceri's mind that drove him to such an act but I know that this was not an act of malice or spite.

"I weep for my daughter's pain, I weep for the loss of my grandchildren and I weep for Ceri's pain and confusion in equal measures.

"There are no villains in this dreadful episode. There are only victims. He will always remain a man I am proud to have called my son-in-law."

The family were reported missing from their village of Milkwall, Glos., after the children failed to attend their local primary and secondary schools last Thursday.

Fuller also failed to turn up for work at paper mill giant Glatfelter and police discovered he had fled with his children in the family's red Land Rover Freelander.

Officers later discovered the four bodies at Poles Coppice, Pontesbury Hill, near Shrewsbury, Shrops, at 10am on Monday.

Post mortems carried out by a Home Office pathologist revealed that all three children died as a result of stab injuries, while Fuller suffered fatal multiple injuries.

Mr Tocknell, from Lydney, Glos., paid tribute to his three young grandchildren killed in the knife attack as "intelligent, articulate and loving".

In his open letter sent to the Gloucester Citizen newspaper, he said: "Sam was an astoundingly intelligent boy with a surprisingly sophisticated sense of humour.

"He was interested in so many things and ate life up with a spoon. Like his father, Sam developed an interest in science.

"He loved computers, natural science, biology, maths, astronomy and all the studies that could help him to figure out exactly how the universe works.

"I am so grateful for the time that I had with him.

"Becca was the quiet one. Until very recently, she was intensely shy and introverted. In the last year or so, however, she began to blossom.

"She became more outward and able to communicate her thoughts. She was artistic and articulate and very much like her mother.

"Charlie is the youngest and the absolute opposite of Becca.

"Many of the photos I attempted to take of Becca wound up as photos of Charlie leaping in front of the lens. She was extroverted and assertive.

She was the most demonstrative of her love and never shy of showing her affection.

"We never had to 'steal' a hug from Charlie. She was as keen for hugs and kisses as she was for photo opportunities.

"We had them for so short a time. No grandparent should have to bury their grandchildren and no parent should have to bury their sons or daughters."

Mr Tocknell revealed that heartbroken Ruth was "recovering well" but said the whole family was still coming to terms with the ordeal.

He said: "Ruth is recovering well and we are well on the road to coming to terms with this.

"No anger, no malice.

"I never thought I would ever be among those who are on the receiving end of the sorrow and empathy of the entire nation and I would certainly never have wished for it.

"But we cannot dictate the random paths our lives take. I would ask all to suspend judgment and find compassion for all.

"I thank everyone who has laid flowers and messages both at the family's house and at the scene of the incident.

"Ruth will receive these and I know they will be of great comfort to her. Now it is time for us to try to begin some kind of recovery from this terrible ordeal."

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