The daughter of a woman who was murdered in her own home along with her two young children today said what had happened to her family was “absolutely tragic”.
The bodies of Geraldine Newman, 51, and her children, 11-year-old Shannon and Shane, aged six, were discovered in the property at Beeston Way, Allerton Bywater, near Leeds, on Tuesday.
Post-mortem examinations carried out yesterday (Feb 3) found Mrs Newman died from head injuries – possibly inflicted by a hammer – and that the children had been stabbed.
It is thought they were attacked by Mrs Newman’s estranged husband, Paul, 42, who was later found dead in north Wales after apparently jumping from cliffs at Anglesey.
In a statement released today by West Yorkshire Police, Stacey Swinson, Mrs Newman’s daughter, 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.”
A three-minute silence attended by hundreds of people was held outside the family home last night 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 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 Ms 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.”