Shropshire Star

Violent relationship that ended in Fuller children's Pontesbury deaths

The couple whose children were stabbed to death by their father on a Shropshire hill had a 'violent' relationship fuelled by jealousy, an inquest was told.


Before the conclusion of the Fuller family inquest, mother Ruth Fuller told of a relationship with husband Ceri which had often come to blows after meeting at the University of Huddersfield in the late 1990s.

In a statement read at the inquest, she said: "I was violent to him on a couple of occasions, as he was to me."

And the 34-year-old mother said he had grabbed the telephone cord from her after trying to ring the police during one domestic incident shortly after she gave birth to Samuel in 2000.

He was then said to have wrapped the cord around his hand in a motion which suggested he would strangle her.

"He took the cord from me and just came at me," her statement said. "In that moment I saw something in Ceri."

Happier times – Ceri and Ruth on their wedding day in 2009

The pair married in August 2009 but had split up twice during their relationship which included a period in 1999 when she returned home to live with her father Ron Tocknell. It was during this time that she first tried to kill herself with an overdose of medication.

Mrs Fuller described how her husband, 35, walked out of the family home in Milkwall, Gloucestershire, with their children on July 12 last year after she told him to 'take the kids for a drive' after a row.

The day before, Ruth suggested they end their relationship after falling for her open university lecturer and Mr Fuller transferred £2,000 into her bank account before he left with the children.

Four days later, the bodies of his three children were found near the disused quarry in Shropshire. After killing them Mr Fuller dumped their bodies in overgrown woodland before jumping to his death from a cliff.

Mrs Fuller told Wem Coroners Court that, after starting a humanities course at Cheltenham College, 'everything was changing' in their marriage.

She said: "We both knew something was going wrong in our relationship and we were both in a very strange mental state and had been for a while. He was very possessive and jealous and didn't seem to like me talking to anyone. I was changing and I realised he was feeling neglected."

Mrs Fuller's father Ron described the alarming deterioration in Mrs Fuller's mental health when she returned to the family home after her husband had left with her children.

He said: "She was emptying tablets into her hand so I grabbed her but then she broke free and grabbed a knife out of the kitchen draw and was trying to plunge it into her. I dialled 999 and shouted the address down the phone even though I wasn't sure I had made a connection with them. She knocked the phone out of my hand and on to the table and the batteries fell out.

"After a struggle I managed to ring Anne and told her to get over here as we had a big problem on our hands."

Mrs Fuller was hospitalised later that evening while her husband had headed towards Shropshire in the family car with his three children.

Anne, Ruth's mother, broke down in tears in court as she said her daughter appeared to be in a 'trance-like state' as the horrific events unfolded 75 miles away.

Andrew Barkley, deputy coroner for Mid and north-west Shropshire, concluded that Samuel, 12, Rebecca, eight, and Charlotte Fuller, seven, were unlawfully killed by their father Ceri Fuller in Pontesbury, near Shrewsbury, last July.

After offering his condolences to members of the couple's family, the coroner said: "It is clear to me that the relationship between Ruth and her husband had lasted for about 15 years and was generally quite good.

"It appears there were ups and downs and there were separations but nothing so remarkable as to give a clue as to what followed."

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