What drives a loving dad to kill his children?

Daily Echo: Why did he do it? Dave Cass smothered his daughters Why did he do it? Dave Cass smothered his daughters

PAULA THOMPSON asks why a doting dad like Dave Cass would kill his children.

THE children are dressed and sit excitedly in the back of the car, wondering where Daddy is going to take them. But this is no happy family outing. In fact, the very man they love and look to for protection is driving them to their deaths.

On Father’s Day this year, Brian Philcox drove Amy, seven, and Owen, three, to a remote beauty spot in North Wales where he gassed them and himself with exhaust fumes from his car.

He had planned the murder carefully and even sent a chilling text message to their mother, his ex wife, saying: “I’ve left you a present.”

It is a horrific crime made all the more disturbing by its sickeningly familiarity. In 2006 dad John Hogan threw his sixyear- old son Liam over a fourth-floor balcony to his death after rowing with his wife on a family holiday.

In April this year, Chris Townsend – who was said to be locked in a bitter divorce battle with his wife – hanged himself after torching his house and killing his six-year-old son Charlie.

Then, last month, fallen millionaire businessman Christopher Foster shot his unsuspecting teenage daughter in the back of the head, before shooting his wife as she slept, torching their mansion and then turning the rifle on himself.

Now Southampton dad Dave Cass has joined this tragic roll call of murderous fathers. While the circumstances remain unclear, police believe the 32-year-old killed his two daughters, aged one and three, before hanging himself.

The self-employed MoT tester phoned his family to tell them he planned to kill his daughters but the warning was too late to save them. Bafflingly, those who knew him, describe the father as a “doting family man” which make his actions utterly incomprehensible.

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How do seemingly loving fathers like Brian Philcox, John Hogan and Chris Townsend knowingly murder their own children?

Are they driven by hatred, despair, anger or insanity? And can their actions ever be excused or are these men simply evil? Psychologists cite mental illness as a huge driving factor behind murder-suicides, or “family-annihilations” as they are called in America. Some parents may have decided life is no longer worth living and truly believe it kinder to take their children with them.

Desire for revenge Experts also believe anger and a desire for revenge can cause dads to commit murder-suicide. Leading Hampshire forensic and clinical psychologist Dr Ludwig Lowenstein says: “I have seen many cases where the hatred for someone is more powerful than the love for the children. Usually it is hatred towards a partner or ex-partner.

“Also, fathers can sometimes feel that another male figure will take their place and leave them on the outside. It is very sad but a combination of depression and a sense of helplessness – a feeling that they will lose their children anyway – can and does drive people to do this. They feel there is no alternative.”

When Perry Samuel asphyxiated his children Caitlin, five, and Aidan, three, the judge cited the motive as malice against his estranged spouse. And when Gavin Hall drugged his four-year-old daughter Millie before suffocating her with a chloroform-soaked rag, he had just discovered his wife was having an affair.

But it is not just men who are capable of murdering their children – 78 per cent of child murders are committed by the parents – and mums are just as likely to be the killers as dads. Nadine Taylor, campaign co-ordinator for Fathers 4 Justice is calling for a national helpline for distressed dads.

“There is deep-rooted sympathy for the mother and child bond,” she says.

“Everyone is very quick to talk about post natal depression, but fathers get depressed as well. It is deeply destructive to label these men as evil. For a person to do something like this they have gone beyond the rational stage of thought. In some cases they do face losing their children and it’s like a living bereavement.”

Comments (16)

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12:56pm Tue 23 Sep 08

Redhat says...

I myself as a father of a fantastic 2 year old boy-and my first,would NEVER,EVER dream of hurting him..not in a million years..and before you ask,yes im seeing a psychiatrist and am on anti depressants...etc...
.
But NOTHING can ever excuse ANY parent for killing their own children!!! i dont care a toss what reason they have to even think of something so evil,to a vulnerable child that THEY bought into this world and decided to create..
If you want to kill your children, you are a very twisted,evil,selfish
,unloving filth of the highest degree!! why punish family,relatives and friends,through your selfishness,self-cen
tered thoughts...ok your partner left you- DEAL WITH IT!!... dont take the easy,cowardly way out.. go get help!! it is out there..
This post is not meant to offend anyone and i apologise if it has... i just feel so strongly about this,that i cant even get my words out...
To all the dads out there, go get help!!! dont take the easy way out.. you leave ppl behind who have to live with this forever..or dont you give a ****?????....

As for Dave... you took your failed relationship out on your 2 special girls.. for that i hope u rot in hell for all eternity.
I myself as a father of a fantastic 2 year old boy-and my first,would NEVER,EVER dream of hurting him..not in a million years..and before you ask,yes im seeing a psychiatrist and am on anti depressants...etc... . But NOTHING can ever excuse ANY parent for killing their own children!!! i dont care a toss what reason they have to even think of something so evil,to a vulnerable child that THEY bought into this world and decided to create.. If you want to kill your children, you are a very twisted,evil,selfish ,unloving filth of the highest degree!! why punish family,relatives and friends,through your selfishness,self-cen tered thoughts...ok your partner left you- DEAL WITH IT!!... dont take the easy,cowardly way out.. go get help!! it is out there.. This post is not meant to offend anyone and i apologise if it has... i just feel so strongly about this,that i cant even get my words out... To all the dads out there, go get help!!! dont take the easy way out.. you leave ppl behind who have to live with this forever..or dont you give a ****?????.... As for Dave... you took your failed relationship out on your 2 special girls.. for that i hope u rot in hell for all eternity. Redhat
  • Score: 0

1:21pm Tue 23 Sep 08

hulla baloo says...

Totally agree with the above.
Whilst we have not been made aware of the full details, one does wonder to what degree, the ex wife/girlfriend plays in this tragedy.
So often the children are used as pawns in the adults battles, and maybe she was threatening him with never letting him see the children again.
Totally agree with the above. Whilst we have not been made aware of the full details, one does wonder to what degree, the ex wife/girlfriend plays in this tragedy. So often the children are used as pawns in the adults battles, and maybe she was threatening him with never letting him see the children again. hulla baloo
  • Score: 0

2:19pm Tue 23 Sep 08

goard says...

Hulla baloo, you are right - there can be a catastrophic end of relationships, which at the time, both feel they are right. but it turns into a personal war. I have known a partner, looking back, and saying I became 'almost out of my mind'. The relationship between male and female can be so aggresive it would need a magical hand to seperate the two. The Law intravenes and the children become the subject of a custody law - someone has to lose out and that usually is the male partner. It is a matter of jobs, care of and support from the State and the male loses out. At the moment it is the mother - BUT the father is equally important. It is a matter of always keeping in touch and quietly being there when the kids get older - it's a tough game and I feel very sorry for the 'other parent'. Dont't forget that ousted parent is always there for their kids.

goard
Hulla baloo, you are right - there can be a catastrophic end of relationships, which at the time, both feel they are right. but it turns into a personal war. I have known a partner, looking back, and saying I became 'almost out of my mind'. The relationship between male and female can be so aggresive it would need a magical hand to seperate the two. The Law intravenes and the children become the subject of a custody law - someone has to lose out and that usually is the male partner. It is a matter of jobs, care of and support from the State and the male loses out. At the moment it is the mother - BUT the father is equally important. It is a matter of always keeping in touch and quietly being there when the kids get older - it's a tough game and I feel very sorry for the 'other parent'. Dont't forget that ousted parent is always there for their kids. goard goard
  • Score: 0

8:11pm Tue 23 Sep 08

hevbro says...

dave cass was a very loving and devoted father who was desperate to be with his girls who he loved more than anything.he cuddled his girls to sleep so that he would not be seperated from them again.r.i.p dave no more torment you at peace with your little girls that you cauldnt live without.heatherxxxxx
xx
dave cass was a very loving and devoted father who was desperate to be with his girls who he loved more than anything.he cuddled his girls to sleep so that he would not be seperated from them again.r.i.p dave no more torment you at peace with your little girls that you cauldnt live without.heatherxxxxx xx hevbro
  • Score: 0

8:30pm Tue 23 Sep 08

hevbro says...

why would dave cass been given access to his girls two days after telling his estranged wife he planned to commit suicide!!
why would dave cass been given access to his girls two days after telling his estranged wife he planned to commit suicide!! hevbro
  • Score: 0

8:39pm Tue 23 Sep 08

prouse says...

words cannot express how sad this is. he must of been very desperate to do such a thing. but every there are two sides too every story.there is not enough help for theses dads when there worlds are torn apart.
words cannot express how sad this is. he must of been very desperate to do such a thing. but every there are two sides too every story.there is not enough help for theses dads when there worlds are torn apart. prouse
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Tue 23 Sep 08

hevbro says...

to redhat dave cass would never have hurt his kids in a million years either,dont judge a man til you walk in his shoes!the only scumbags are the ones dishing the dirt and getting paid for it!!shame on you,you know who you are.and the other writer,no you dont know the full story!!
to redhat dave cass would never have hurt his kids in a million years either,dont judge a man til you walk in his shoes!the only scumbags are the ones dishing the dirt and getting paid for it!!shame on you,you know who you are.and the other writer,no you dont know the full story!! hevbro
  • Score: 0

9:19pm Tue 23 Sep 08

prouse says...

glad someones on his side on one has thought about how he felt. also what his family are going though they have lost not only grandchildren but their son too my thoughts are with them
glad someones on his side on one has thought about how he felt. also what his family are going though they have lost not only grandchildren but their son too my thoughts are with them prouse
  • Score: 0

9:51pm Tue 23 Sep 08

Rachie says...

hevbro wrote:
dave cass was a very loving and devoted father who was desperate to be with his girls who he loved more than anything.he cuddled his girls to sleep so that he would not be seperated from them again.r.i.p dave no more torment you at peace with your little girls that you cauldnt live without.heatherxxxxx
xx
Hev, you are truly disillusioned. I have a frisson of pity for Mr Cass, and I have a lot of sympathy for his parents and family.

However, this man did not 'cuddle' his daughters to death. He smothered them. He planned and executed their death.

Please don't try us insult our intelligence. Next you'll be saying Ian Brady loved his victims to death.

[quote][bold]hevbro[/bold] wrote: dave cass was a very loving and devoted father who was desperate to be with his girls who he loved more than anything.he cuddled his girls to sleep so that he would not be seperated from them again.r.i.p dave no more torment you at peace with your little girls that you cauldnt live without.heatherxxxxx xx[/quote]Hev, you are truly disillusioned. I have a frisson of pity for Mr Cass, and I have a lot of sympathy for his parents and family. However, this man did not 'cuddle' his daughters to death. He smothered them. He planned and executed their death. Please don't try us insult our intelligence. Next you'll be saying Ian Brady loved his victims to death. Rachie
  • Score: 0

10:31pm Tue 23 Sep 08

Quite Frankly says...

This is a tragic story. Show some dignity, people - and remember those girls, their mum, and their dad, and both their families. What those remaining are going through is unimaginable, so I suggest the rest of us just shut up.
This is a tragic story. Show some dignity, people - and remember those girls, their mum, and their dad, and both their families. What those remaining are going through is unimaginable, so I suggest the rest of us just shut up. Quite Frankly
  • Score: 0

2:26am Wed 24 Sep 08

Finlay says...

...lookng like James Bonds assistant couldn't have helped his cause. I live for my kids and its not something I can begin to ... No! ... It's incomprehensible to me and I guess to many ... then I have never been lke this guy was in. He lived in a caravan at the back of a greasy garage and his wife could see he wasn't the spire in the city and played him.

I guess I would feel pi**** if I couldn't see my kids but if I was in downhill mode and the only way is down, then would I let my estranged spouse have them by hanging myself?

Tough call
...lookng like James Bonds assistant couldn't have helped his cause. I live for my kids and its not something I can begin to ... No! ... It's incomprehensible to me and I guess to many ... then I have never been lke this guy was in. He lived in a caravan at the back of a greasy garage and his wife could see he wasn't the spire in the city and played him. I guess I would feel pi**** if I couldn't see my kids but if I was in downhill mode and the only way is down, then would I let my estranged spouse have them by hanging myself? Tough call Finlay
  • Score: 0

7:33am Wed 24 Sep 08

hevbro says...

rachie you obviously havnt got any intelligence for me to insult!!! how dare you think i would give brady a single thought he was a monster he didnt take his kids cos he loved them he took everyone elses because he was evil.i hope the reasons for this come out soon and you might think about what you say.
rachie you obviously havnt got any intelligence for me to insult!!! how dare you think i would give brady a single thought he was a monster he didnt take his kids cos he loved them he took everyone elses because he was evil.i hope the reasons for this come out soon and you might think about what you say. hevbro
  • Score: 0

12:00pm Wed 24 Sep 08

Rachie says...

I am intelligent enough not to be drawn in by sob stories.

I always think about what I say, but clearly this man did not 'cuddle' his children to death and it insults me that I'm supposed to accept this bubbles and balloons phrase.

Read back and you'll see that at no point have a I passed judgement on Mr Cass, and I do indeed express sympathy to his family.

I am intelligent enough not to be drawn in by sob stories. I always think about what I say, but clearly this man did not 'cuddle' his children to death and it insults me that I'm supposed to accept this bubbles and balloons phrase. Read back and you'll see that at no point have a I passed judgement on Mr Cass, and I do indeed express sympathy to his family. Rachie
  • Score: 0

6:15pm Wed 24 Sep 08

nosy parker says...

what a sad story and a terrible ending but he must have been beside himself to do this i hope all women who use there kids as ammunition in a tug of love when you split up think twice now people can only take so much then they flip kids are not the PROPERTY of the mother both parents should be equal
what a sad story and a terrible ending but he must have been beside himself to do this i hope all women who use there kids as ammunition in a tug of love when you split up think twice now people can only take so much then they flip kids are not the PROPERTY of the mother both parents should be equal nosy parker
  • Score: 0

11:47am Fri 26 Sep 08

DadsLoveTheirKidsToo says...

What a tragedy. While I have every sympathy with the families and mother involved in this awful story, I am left wondering if the outcome would have been different if both parents were treated as parents with equal abilities by the courts/society at the point of separation?

Also wondering how Nadine Taylor has managed to get involved with this article calling herself the Fathers 4 Justice campaign coordinator, when her partner disbanded "his" organisation 2 weeks ago. Also wondering where all the £30 membership fees have gone?
What a tragedy. While I have every sympathy with the families and mother involved in this awful story, I am left wondering if the outcome would have been different if both parents were treated as parents with equal abilities by the courts/society at the point of separation? Also wondering how Nadine Taylor has managed to get involved with this article calling herself the Fathers 4 Justice campaign coordinator, when her partner disbanded "his" organisation 2 weeks ago. Also wondering where all the £30 membership fees have gone? DadsLoveTheirKidsToo
  • Score: 0

5:50pm Sat 27 Sep 08

laura1980 says...

hevbro wrote:
dave cass was a very loving and devoted father who was desperate to be with his girls who he loved more than anything.he cuddled his girls to sleep so that he would not be seperated from them again.r.i.p dave no more torment you at peace with your little girls that you cauldnt live without.heatherxxxxx
xx
i totally agree with you heather i have known dave & his family for many years & i know that dave was a kind caring loving father who did everything he possibly could for his daughters. he has been branded a monster & evil but dave was nothing like that he was a father who couldnt be without his girls. my heart goes out to both families especially daves as they not only have to deal with the grief of losing dave & the girls but they also have to live with the label that has been put on dave. anyone who knew him knew why he did this & what he was truly like. my deepest sympathies go to both familys & rest in peace dave with your girls you will all be sorely missed
[quote][bold]hevbro[/bold] wrote: dave cass was a very loving and devoted father who was desperate to be with his girls who he loved more than anything.he cuddled his girls to sleep so that he would not be seperated from them again.r.i.p dave no more torment you at peace with your little girls that you cauldnt live without.heatherxxxxx xx[/quote]i totally agree with you heather i have known dave & his family for many years & i know that dave was a kind caring loving father who did everything he possibly could for his daughters. he has been branded a monster & evil but dave was nothing like that he was a father who couldnt be without his girls. my heart goes out to both families especially daves as they not only have to deal with the grief of losing dave & the girls but they also have to live with the label that has been put on dave. anyone who knew him knew why he did this & what he was truly like. my deepest sympathies go to both familys & rest in peace dave with your girls you will all be sorely missed laura1980
  • Score: 0
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