My God, this case is a total travesty. This freaking narcissistic arse of a dad, CHRISTOPHER TOWNSEND, decided to suffocate his six-year-old son, set fire to his house, and hang himself because he believed he had lost a custody battle. Seems to me, in retrospect, that this jerk was way too unstable and violent to have anything to do with children. He SHOULD have lost custody, and been barred from coming anywhere near them.
But no, it was all a mistake, as the stupid social workers apparently "misunderstood" what had happened at the hearing. Daddy hadn't lost at all. No decision had been made yet.
I'm so sick of Dads who think that "access" to their children is an entitlement, and that they are perfectly justified in slaughtering the kids if they don't get their way--or think they're getting their way. I'm also sick to death of the consistent Fathers Rights defense of these sociopaths. This has nothing to do with love. Nothing. It's an abuser control fantasy. Nobody can take you away from me if you're dead. Utterly repulsive.
Father who feared losing access to his son 'suffocated child before setting fire to house and hanging himself'
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:09 PM on 03rd December 2009
A BBC set designer suffocated his six-year-old son, set fire to his house and hanged himself because he wrongly feared he had lost a custody battle, an inquest heard today.
Christopher Townsend, 51, is believed to have smothered son Charlie-Bob before he started a fire in an upstairs bedroom and hanged himself from rafters in the garage.
He had attended a family court hearing earlier that day in which he believed a judge had cut his access and ordered him to hand over the house to ex-wife Paula, now 40.
However, social workers involved in the case said he had misunderstood the hearing and the final decision was not due to be made until a later date.
Charlie-Bob was found by firefighters lying in his bed in an upstairs bedroom while a fire raged at the property in Long Ashton near Bristol on Thursday 24 April 2008.
The inquest into their deaths yesterday heard how Christopher, who regularly worked on the BBC drama Casualty, had become 'obsessed' with the custody case and spiralled into depression.
He met Paula in 1999 and they married a year later and appeared 'blissfully happy' until the relationship began to faulter in 2005.
She has an 11-year-old son, Lewis, from a previous relationship but Christopher had taken him as his own, the inquest was told.
Paula, who worked in the BBC's costume department, moved out of their home and both children were put on child protection plans with involvement from social workers to decide their future.
In a statement read out in court, Christopher's long-term friend Sophie Beecher said he believed Paula was having an affair and was not fit to look after the children.
She said: 'I think it was safe to say that the relationship started to fail. Then she moved out and took the two boys with her.
'In 2007, access rights to Charlie-Bob was going through the courts. Christopher believed that Paula was being unreasonable.
'He became quite obsessed and I believe he may have given up work with the BBC in order to fight his court hearing.
'He was very short of money. I can only describe him as being depressed and unhappy.
'He called me after the court hearing and he was clearly very distressed and close to tears. He said it could not have gone any worse.
'He made reference to having been refused access rights to his children. I said that he should not be alone.
'I was totally devastated by the news. I was aware that he was a very unhappy man but I still find it unimaginable that he acted in the way that he did.'
Another of Christopher's friends, Elizabeth Ashmead, whom he had met at art college in London, said that he had called her on the day of the tragic court hearing on 23 April.
In a statement read out in court, Elizabeth said: 'He told me he had just come out of court and said that he had to pay Paula £17,000, sign over the house and could not see Charlie-Bob on Wednesdays anymore.
'He was devastated. He kept saying: "I have done nothing wrong". He told me that he had provided all the evidence to the judge but the judge had told him to "move on".
'He told me: "It's time to sling the noose".'
Deaths: A forensic expert working inside the burned-out house
After the court hearing Christopher visited the Bird in Hand pub in Long Ashton before returning to the five-bed home, where Charlie-Bob was staying the night.
Forensic scientist David Scaysbrook told the court that he believed the fire was started deliberately in a cupboard underneath a spiral staircase at the couple's home.
Firefighters were called to the house at 6am on the morning of the 24th April and found Charlie-Bob lying upstairs in a single bed wearing his pyjamas and partially covered by a duvet.
Marc Fox, of Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, described the scene when they arrived and saw black smoke and flames coming out of the windows.
A pair of bay windows at the back of the drawing room had been left open and had allowed the fire to grow.
He found Charlie-Bob's body and passed the boy to firefighters at the window of the room. All attempts to resuscitate him failed.
Christopher's body was found hanging from the rafters in a garage behind the house.
Toxicology reports found no alcohol in his system but he was found to have taken some of the sleep aid, Nytol.
Dr Hugh White, the Home Office pathologist who carried out a post-mortem examination on Charlie-Bob's body, said he was unable to identify the cause of death.
He had no broken bones and his carbon monoxide levels were considered normal, ruling out a death by smoke inhalation.
There was blistering and skin loss to Charlie-Bob's arms that had been exposed from underneath the duvet, but these were not considered to have caused his death.
Recording the cause of death as unascertained, Dr White said the most likely cause was death by smothering with a pillow or similar object.
'The absence of soot stains in his airways means that he must have been dead before the fire started,' he said.
'However, the most probably cause of death was smothering with a pillow or similar object.'
Geraldine Thomas, the social worker involved with the family and their court case, told the court that Christopher had misunderstood the hearing on 23 April.
She said: 'Charlie-Bob was getting quite confused having three different homes. He had been staying with his father, his mother and his maternal grandmother. So we were looking at ways to improve that.
'The hearing wasn't trying to stop him from having contact with his children at all.
'I think what he heard was that he was going to stop having contact with Charlie-Bob, but that was never the intention at all.'
She told the coroners' court that the family court hearing on 23 April had been adjourned until June so that she could mediate between both parties, and she had an appointment with Mr Townsend booked for 1 May.
Both children were placed on child protection plans but the tragedy took place before an arrangement could be reached.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1233000/Father-feared-losing-access-son-suffocated-child-setting-house-hanging-himself.html#ixzz0YeTGwIT7