Police have defended their previous dealings with triple murderer Paul Newman – as the family of his victims spoke of their loss.
Newman bludgeoned his estranged wife, Geraldine, 51, to death at her home on Beeston Way, Allerton Bywater, before fatally stabbing children Shannon, 11, and six-year-old Shane.
He then drove to north Wales and jumped to his death from cliffs at Anglesey. The bodies of the family were discovered by a friend on Tuesday.
Speaking for the first time since the incident, Stacey Swinson, 31, Mrs Newman’s daughter from a previous marriage, said relatives were struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
She said: “What has happened to my family is absolutely tragic. I would like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and condolences. This is a very difficult time for us and I would ask that people respect our privacy while we continue to grieve with family and friends.”
Her comments came as police and partner agencies in Leeds defended themselves following criticism of their dealings with Paul Newman.
The 42-year-old had been jailed for 17 weeks in 2013 for assaulting Wilko shop manager Mrs Newman and was monitored for the following year.
Natalie Hampton-Dodd, who met Mrs Newman after she started visiting a domestic violence charity, accused police of giving Newman “a licence to kill” by ending their monitoring of him. She claimed Newman continued to attack his wife after she took him back.
Ms Hampton-Dodd told a national newspaper: “When he attacked her in 2013 he virtually left her for dead. He was jumping on her head.
“But when he was released from prison he was categorised as ‘low risk’. How is that possible?
“He should have been told to stay away and leave her alone.”
However, it is thought the only recorded incident of domestic violence carried out by Newman was the one which led to his imprisonment.
In a statement Safer Leeds – a partnership of police, council and other public bodies – said an investigation to establish the full circumstances of the case was ongoing.
A spokesman contested Ms Hampton-Dodd’s claim that Newman was classed as low risk, saying: “The case was assessed as high risk and subject to detailed review under the multi-agency risk assessment conference process.
“In line with established procedure, this monitoring was kept in place for 12 months and during that time there were no further incidents reported to West Yorkshire Police.”
He added: “As with all cases of this nature, there will be full and detailed multi-agency review of the circumstances which will include an examination of any previous contact with any relevant agencies.”
Last night a three-minute silence was attended by hundreds of people outside the family home as bouquets of flowers were laid in memory of the three. One bouquet had a card attached paying tribute to ‘three special angels’.
Helen Gilroy, acting head teacher at St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School, where Shannon was a student, said the school was “deeply saddened”.
She added: “Shannon was a bright, intelligent, enthusiastic, hardworking and caring student. Shannon was very popular among her peers and will be greatly missed by all members of our community.”
Sarah Spencer, head at Shane’s school, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Castleford, said: “Shane was a caring, lovable young boy, full of fun, who enjoyed school and made many friends. He will be missed by all here at St Joseph’s school and the whole of this close community. Prayers have been said in assembly and in local churches.”
Andrea Holroyd, a friend of Gerry Newman for about 20 years, described her as “one in a million”.
Detective Chief Inspector Warren Stevenson, of the West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said investigations were ongoing but added: “We can say that this appears to have been a domestic-related incident and we are not looking for anyone else.”
Reverend Canon Rosemarie Hayes, the priest in charge of the area, said: “Much as everybody else, I was shocked and shaken by the news. Allerton Bywater is such a lovely, friendly, supportive community and you just don’t expect to have such a tragedy within that community.
“Everybody seems very subdued, as though they can’t really believe what has happened.”
MP Alec Shelbrooke, whose constituency includes Allerton Bywater, called for the community to be given time to grieve.
He said: “When I first heard the story I was shocked and then, as I read the details, there was a sense of heartbreak – I was moved to tears, as I’m sure were a great many people.
“We are all very close as communities and the strength of the community will always shine through. I want the community to be given the time and space to deal with this in their own way.”
St Mary’s Church in Allerton Bywater will be open for prayer for the Newman family from 2pm on Sunday.
Police were called to the family’s home in Beeston Way shortly before noon on Tuesday and found Ms Newman’s body downstairs and the bodies of her daughter and son upstairs.
Mr Newman’s body was discovered around 5pm near cliffs at the beauty spot which is about 150 miles away.
According to reports, colleagues of Mrs Newman raised the alarm and a note was later found at an address linked to Mr Newman. The mother was a branch manager for Wilko where she had worked for 23 years and a spokesman said she was a “loyal and enormously respected member of the team” adding: “This is tragic news and has devastated everyone who worked with Geraldine as well as impacting team members across the company. Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences are with her family, friends and colleagues.”