01/09/2008

Third Body Found In Arson Attack Mansion

A third body has been found in the burnt-out mansion of a millionaire businessman.

Christopher Foster, 50, his wife Jill, 49, and their 15-year-old daughter Kirstie had not been seen since the arson attack last Tuesday at Osbaston House, a large country estate in Shropshire.

West Mercia Police are treating the case as a murder inquiry.

A post mortem on Thursday identified the first body found in the ruins of the building to be Jill Foster. Tests reveal she had been shot in the head prior to the blaze.

The second body found has not yet been identified but is believed to be that of Mr Foster. The cause of death is still unknown. A rifle legitimately owned by Mr Foster was found close by the man's body, tests are being carried out to establish whether it was the murder weapon.

Police specialists found the remains of a third person on Sunday evening.

Detective Superintendent Jon Groves, of West Mercia Police, said it would take "some time" to remove the third body from the scene "due to its position".

"The search and examination of the property is continuing and is still expected to take several days, possibly even weeks," he said.

Three horses and four dogs were also found in the house; all had been shot.

Police have confirmed the entrance to the grounds of the house had been blocked by a horse box belonging to the family.

The Fosters were last seen at a barbecue at a friend's house. Internet records show Kirstie had been online until 1am on the morning of the fire.

Mr Foster made his fortune developing insulation technology for oil rigs.

Earlier this year a judge ruling on a debt case said the businessman was "bereft of the basic instincts of commercial morality". Court documents show that his company, Ulva Ltd, which had gone into liquidation, faced legal action from one of its suppliers for thousands of pounds, and also owed around £800,000.

(GK)

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