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Dad’s massacre of family described as an ‘atrocity with no explanation’

Robert Needham, 42, used a legally held shotgun to kill his family (Picture: Hyde News & Pictures/Matrix Pictures/Facebook)

Grieving relatives may never know why a ‘loving’ father killed his partner and their daughters before turning the gun on himself.

Robert Needham, 42, used a legally held shotgun to kill Ava, four, and Lexi, two, at close range.

He then fired at Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, hitting her in the arm before a fatal shot to her head.

Their dog Billy was also killed with the gun bought days earlier by Needham, who then took his own life.

Tackle shine with this skin cream that hydrates, mattifies, and beats oil, and other top stories from July 17, 2022. The family were last seen by a delivery driver at their home in Woodmancote, West Sussex, on the first Saturday of the Covid lockdown in March 2020.

The family had what appeared to be an unremarkable night, said Horsham coroner Bridget Dolan QC.

Needham, who worked as a builder, also took part in a family Facetime call before the massacre, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary at all.

The coroner praised remarkable dignity and composure shown by Kelly’s family, who attended the inquest.

Ms Dolan said: ‘I’m so sorry this inquest has not been able to answer why this atrocity happened.’

She said the world had been robbed of those two bright little girls who had so much promise.

Despite the lack of any explanation for the killings, It was abundantly clear Needham killed his family then himself at the converted farm building they shared with his mother.

The girls got into their parents bed where their bodies were found the next day, and Kelly’s phone was still plugged in beside the bed.

The coroner said it was impossible to know the timing or order in which they were killed, only that Needham was last.

They were all shot from close range or with the muzzle of the gun in direct contact.

Kelly, a legal secretary, had a defensive shotgun wound to her arm, which the coroner suggested was due to her raising her arm to ward of danger.

Ms Dolan said: ‘Having brutally murdered his family, Robert took his own life. The outstanding question is why these dreadful events happened.

‘There’s an awful lot to speculate on but very little evidence. I’m very sorry for you there is no explanation.

‘Everybody who investigated this tried to find one for you. We just cannot take this point any further.

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