A man who shot and killed his friend and their two young children was a ‘loving father’ who showed no sign of the inner turmoil that led to the tragedy, an inquiry heard today.
Robert Needham, 42, shot his four-year-old daughter Abha in the head and his two-year-old daughter Lexi in the chest during the first coveted lockdown in 2020.
He shot his fiance, Kelly Fitzgibbins, 40, in the head and neck at a £ 600,000 home in West Sussex.
Mr Needham is believed to have fired a shotgun at himself.
All four were found dead Sunday evening, March 29, 2020, in a separate property in the quiet village of Woodmancott – a week after the lockdown.
Family members described the two girls as “angelic” and “naughty” and found them lying side by side in a double bed in their parents’ bedroom.
Legal Secretary Miss Fitzgerald was found lying face down on the floor, while Mr Needham was found in the hallway with a gun in his hand and a barrel in his head. Two discharge shotgun cartridges were found on the floor.
Robert Needham (left) killed his friend Kelly Fitzgibbons and their two children, Abha, Char and Lexi, two (also pictured).
Needham is depicted with Ms. Fitzgibbons. His body was found in a family home in Woodmancott, West Sussex
Today the inquest into the death has heard that Mr. Needham had no symptoms of mental stress before the brutal murder.
But the hearing said he was a secret cocaine user and, in the days leading up to the tragedy, had successfully tried to seize drugs from suppliers.
Toxicology tests have also shown that he did not take any cocaine during the tragedy.
In a statement read out in court, his family called the killing a “satanic tragedy.”
He said: ‘The loss of Robert, Kelly, Abha and Lexi has left a painful hole in our lives that will never be filled. They look like a strong loving family.
‘There was no sign of the inner turmoil Rob was clearly experiencing. There is no practical explanation for the destruction of that night. ‘
Mr. Needham and his partner Ms. Fitzgibbons had two children – Abha, five, and Lexi, three.
All four were found dead on the evening of March 29, 2020, in a separate property in the quiet village of Woodmancott – a week after the lockdown.
Police tape has surrounded the garden of a house in the village of West Sussex in Woodmancott
Mr Needham, a manufacturer, is understood to have been given a gun certificate in 2017 and had bought a gun kept at home before the attack.
During the hearing, it was stated that Mr. Needam was facing financial difficulties in the March 2020 race for Kovid Lockdown.
How do you get a gun license in the UK?
To get a gun legally in the UK, you must have a gun license.
You also need to buy ammunition.
They are issued by local police forces who need to be satisfied that you are no threat to the public and have no violent previous beliefs.
They will ask for a passport photo and a referee.
You need two referees for a gun license and one for a gun license.
These referees must have known you for at least two years and cannot be relatives, arms dealers or members of the police.
The cost of a UK gun license is around £ 80.
The family moved to Mr. Needham’s family home in Woodmancott, West Sussex, in 2017 to help care for Maureen, a 77-year-old mother, after the death of her father, Rex, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
They lived upstairs for free while their mother lived in a ‘granny flat’ downstairs.
Mr Needham was building an extension for the house but the family was in financial trouble and had stopped contributing to the bills.
The builder was forced to borrow £ 20,000 from his mother to support his family.
When Kovid attacked Mr Needam, construction supplies became difficult to handle and the expansion of the work had to be put on hold.
In a statement read out during the interrogation, Maureen Needam said she believed she needed money for nursery fees and daily living.
He also entered into an equity release agreement for 180,000 to help fund the construction of the expansion.
In a statement for the hearing, Miss Fitzgerald’s twin sister, Emma Ambler, said she did not believe the couple had any serious financial concerns.
She said: ‘I got the impression that they were right for the money. They could go out at night and buy good things. ‘
Miss Fitzgerald said her sister had talked about tightening her belt but did not look unnecessarily worried.
The tragedy comes two days after Ms Fitzgerald posted a series of photos titled “Our Head for the Day” on her family’s Facebook page in a rural area last Friday.
Photo posted by Ms. Fitzgibbons two days before the family was found dead
She said she had no answer as to why Mr Needham shot and killed his friend and two girls.
‘Rob absolutely loved girls. Ava was a real Bubaki girl. Kelly never told me that Rob was violent towards her and the girls in any way.
The twin sisters, who were shot dead along with their two daughters, say, “Life is impossible without them.”
The twin sisters, who were killed along with their two young daughters by the girl’s father, said the possibility of living without them was “incomprehensible”.
Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and Abha and Lexi Needham, aged four and two, were killed by their friend Robert Needham, 42, on March 29, 2020, at their home in Woodmancott, West Sussex.
An investigation by Horsham on Tuesday found that he had been shot dead before firing on himself.
Bridget Dolan, assistant coroner for Horsham and West Sussex, read tributes to the three victims, written by Emma Ambler, the twin sister of Ms. Fitzgerald.
While reading the tribute, photos of all three were placed on the coroner’s desk.
Miss Ambler wrote: ‘Kelly and I had a wonderful and fun childhood and we used to play together, dance routines and make plays to show the family.
‘Kelly had a lot of friends at school, she did well and school was easy for her.
‘No one laughed at me like Kelly. She was a wonderful sister. She was very caring and treated my children as her own.
“Kelly had wanted children for many years so she was thrilled when she got pregnant. They were her whole world and she was proud of those beautiful girls.
‘We always said we couldn’t live without each other, so his loss is still not understood by me and our father. We will make sure Kelly survives because there is no way we can forget her.
‘She was truly one in a million and I am comforted that she has been with me for 40 years as my sister and my best friend.’
‘I thought life was good for Kelly and Rob and the girls. If this money was down for trouble then it must be something Kelly didn’t know. She was not worried about money or coronavirus. ‘
She said: ‘Abha was a beautiful, fairy little girl. She was the perfect chatterbox. She loved to hold hands, dance and chat. She made many friends at school. She was a ray of sunshine and had a positive outlook on school life. She was always ready with a smile on her face.
‘Lexi was unhappy. She was always smiling or mistaken. She became a little more confident. He had a naughty rhythm in his mind but he liked to hug. He greeted me every day with love and enthusiasm. They got along well and shared a strong bond. ‘
A hair sample test showed Mr Needam had previously been a ‘cocaine user’ and had been forced to see a doctor in the past because of drug damage to his nose.
At the hearing, he said that even on the days of the murder, two attempts to seize drugs were not successful.
Ms Ambler said she did not know Mr Needham had just bought a gun and kept it at home, but her twin sister did not tell him because she knew he did not approve.
The bodies were found by family friend Ronald Mayur, who had climbed the stairs to his bedroom.
He found two young women lying on the side of the bed and his mother on the floor. Mr. Needham was found in the landing.
Examination of the body showed an injury to Miss Fitzgerald’s hand and the side of her face, which showed that she was trying to save herself because her fianc shot her.
A second gunshot wound to the left side of his head would have been fatal, the hearing said.
Both young girls were shot at near or point blank range and died almost immediately.
The murder has shocked the community near the village, with locals claiming Mr Needham was from a dedicated family.
Forty-eight hours before the tragedy, Miss Fitzgerald posted a series of photos online showing the entire family walking in the sun.
The inquiry is ongoing.