The story below is a follow up to yesterdays story on Titled-
Disgusted with the system: Karate expert Brian Philcox killed his children after Fathers' Day treat
Father gassed his children 'to spite wife'
By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, and Nigel Bunyan
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 16/06/2008
A father who killed himself and his two children was a karate champion who had consulted the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice over a bitter custody battle with his wife.
The dead man has been named locally as Brian Philcox, 53, who is thought to have gassed himself in his Land Rover together with his daughter Amy, seven, and son Owen, three, before they were found at a remote beauty spot in North Wales on Father's Day.
He had been due to attend a court hearing this week at which his estranged wife Evelyn, 37, was to seek possession of the family home in Runcorn, Cheshire.
The couple had also reportedly been involved in a child custody dispute. Mr Philcox had told his wife: "I've left you a present. I'll make the papers, just you watch," a family friend has disclosed.
He also told neighbours that he would rather burn his house down than surrender it to his wife, and as a precaution Army bomb disposal experts were called to his four-bedroomed bungalow, and neighbours evacuated from their homes, while a search was conducted following the discovery of the bodies on Sunday afternoon.
The bomb squad was also called in to examine the Land Rover but no device was found at either location. Mr Philcox, who was chairman of the Federation of English Karate Organisations (FEKO), had been due to return the children to his wife at 7pm on Saturday after a scheduled access visit.
His wife called police at 10.50pm when he failed to return and the bodies were discovered near Llanwrst in Conwy the following day.
Friends said Mr Philcox had contacted the controversial campaign group Fathers 4 Justice to seek help over his legal battle with his wife. The group is best known for a series of publicity stunts involving members dressing as superheroes and scaling public buildings including Buckingham Palace.
It temporarily disbanded in 2006 following allegations that members of the group had discussed a plot to kidnap Leo Blair.
Alan Carruthers, Honorary Secretary of FEKO and a close personal friend of Mr Philcox, said: "Brian was a fantastic person and a great dad. I just can't believe this. I'm stunned.
"He did have an issue with his divorce and he was fighting for custody of the children but the last time I spoke to him, a few days ago, he seemed quite positive about getting access to them and they had been spending several days a week with him.
"He did have a court case coming up to decide who got the house and he seemed quite resigned to the fact that he was going to lose the house.
"I thought he had accepted it and he was going to get on with his life."
Mr Carruthers said Mr Philcox, who had been chairman of the karate organisation for 14 years, had been in contact with Fathers 4 Justice.
"They did advise him on a few things but I don't know how far it went," he said.
Mr Philcox had been a karate instructor for 32 years and had won local championships in his youth. He set up a cancer charity after his first wife, Jan, was diagnosed with the disease and won a local Man of the Year community award for his fundraising efforts in 1995, the year before she died.
Mr and Mrs Philcox, who married in 2000, split up 18 months ago after Mrs Philcox accused him of being violent, neighbours said.
Before the tragedy Mr Philcox told one neighbour: "I've lost my wife, I've lost my job, and I've lost my kids. Now I'm going to lose my house."
Mourners placed bouquets of flowers at Mr Philcox's house, together with a white teddy bear and a reindeer cuddly toy.