Dec 23 2010 by Darren Devine, Western MailTHE father of one of two children suffocated by their mother before she hanged herself has paid tribute to the “beautiful little boys”.
Nicholas Smith, the father of two-year-old Izaak Stevens, described his son and five-year-old brother Phillip as “lovers of trains, footballs, cars, puddles and tickles”.
The boys were found in their bedroom at the family home in Trawsfynydd, North Wales, with mother Melanie Stevens, 36, on Sunday evening, after concerned relatives raised the alarm.
It’s not yet clear why Ms Stevens smothered the children before killing herself, but investigations are ongoing.
Ms Stevens also had three older children aged 16, 14 and 12, with ex-husband Peter Akister, who has called the deaths “terrible”.
In a statement released through North Wales Police, Mr Smith said: “Izaak and Pip (Phillip). Two such beautiful boys, lovers of trains, footballs, cars, puddles and tickles.
“Izaak and Pip absorbed all the love they were given from all who knew them and returned it a million times over.”
Tributes have also been left on social networking website Facebook as well as at the family’s T Capel home in Trawsfynydd.
On Facebook Catherine Kate Egginton wrote: “See you later honey.
“Hope your pain is all gone and my dad’s up there if you need anything.”
Another tribute read: “Rest in peace Melanie, alongside your two boys. Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, has been shocked by this. With the angels now.”
On Tuesday Gwynedd Council announced its Local Safeguarding Children Board would be mounting its own investigation into the deaths. The body will be probing whether any lessons can be learnt from the deaths. Investigations are held where a child is the victim of serious abuse, is killed or commits suicide.
Ms Stevens had lived in Trawsfynydd for about 18 months, after moving from nearby Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Detective Chief Inspector John Hanson has said Ms Stevens’ death was not being treated as suspicious and forensic examinations were ongoing at the property.
North Wales Police also has family liaison officers working with other family members affected by the tragedy.
In his tribute to the boys, Mr Smith continued: “They will never lose their innocent joy at the wonders of the world around them, they will forever be two beautiful little boys.”
Another Facebook message read: “The whole of North Wales is shocked by this.”
The incident is one of several over the past decade or so in which parents have murdered their children in North Wales before taking their own life.
In 2003 Keith Young gassed himself and his four sons Joshua, seven, Thomas, six, Callum, five, and Daniel, three, in a car on the Horseshoe Pass.
And five years later in 2008 martial arts expert Brian Philcox, 52, gassed himself, daughter Amy, seven, and her brother Owen, three, in a farm truck near Llanrwst.
Cardiff University criminologist professor Michael Levi said parents kill their children out of a sense of desperation when they “can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel”.
He said: “People just sometimes get exhausted and can’t face up to their situation.
“But a lot of people feel that way and don’t kill themselves and their children.”
Professor Levi said explanations in these kinds of cases can vary from relationship to financial problems.
“There’s always a reason why people do it, but taken together it’s just a sense that you can’t cope.
“It’s depression in a sense that you look forward, but can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”
Local Trawsfynydd councillor Thomas Griffith Ellis said the sombre atmosphere that has pervaded the village since the deaths remains.
“It’s quite depressing. The little children were murdered and all the people want to say how sad it is that such a thing has happened.
“People are confused as to why she might have done it because you don’t hear of a woman committing suicide in this way very often.”
Ms Stevens’ mother Pauline, who lives in the West Midlands, has so far declined to comment on the tragedy.
The father of Phillip, who was a pupil at Ysgol Edmwnd Prys, Gellilydan, three miles away, has not been identified.
Further light may not now be shed on why Ms Stevens, who locals characterised as a loving mother, murdered her children until an inquest is held next year.