The final episode of ITV documentary series Murder in the Family looks at the truly awful deaths of Kelly Fitzgibbons and her daughters.
Robert Needham murdered his own daughters Ava and Lexi – just four and two years old – as well as his long-term partner Kelly and the family pet. He then turned the gun on himself.
One week into the Covid lockdown in 2020, builder Rob murdered legal secretary Kelly and their two children before turning the gun on himself.
Kelly’s identical twin sister, who was 160 miles away at the time, immediately sensed that something was wrong… She has since campaigned for tougher laws on gun ownership.
Robert had no history of violence with the police. They were no reports of domestic abuse. It was “totally out of the blue”.
Murder in the Family – what happened to the Fitzgibbons family?
The bodies of Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and Robert Needham, 42, were found with those of their children Ava Needham, four, and two-year-old Lexi Needham.
The four members of the family found dead at a house in West Sussex all died of gunshot wounds, police said. Even the pet dog was killed in the tragic massacre.
Police made the discovery in Duffield Lane in Woodmancote near Chichester on the evening of March 29, 2020. An investigation eventually showed that Robert Needham had murdered his long-term partner Kelly Fitzgibbon, their two kids, and the family pet. He then turned the gun on himself.
Why did Rob Needham kill his family?
Rob Needham went from loving boyfriend and father to killer. The inquest heard how the happy and loving couple had been together for more than a decade.
However, phone messages towards the end of their relationship showed that things hadn’t been working out. Kelly Fitzgibbons wrote on WhatsApp: “I think we should have a break and see how we both feel.”
Rob Needham wrote back: “If that’s how you really feel.”
The couple had financial difficulties in the past and had borrowed £20,000 from Rob’s mother, while Kelly Fitzgibbons had about £3,000 in credit card debt. Rob had a £14,000 loan.
The inquest also heard that Rob Needham had a long-term history of cocaine use, as proven by a previous toxicology report. Forensic toxicologist Dr John Slaughter said Rob had used cocaine in the three months before his death, but was not under the influence of cocaine when he died. However, he had tried to get hold of the drug from a supplier at least twice without success in the days leading up to the deaths.
Rob had been forced, in the past, to see a doctor over damage the drug had caused to his nose. He also had a history of depression. On the night of the murders, the family had enjoyed a Chinese takeaway together.
Kelly’s best friend Sue recalls that Rob was a “quiet, introvert” who never talked about his feelings: “He never talked about himself. But he was dependable.”
How did Rob Needham get hold of a gun?
Police granted Rob Needham a shotgun licence despite being caught lying on his application form, an inquest in Horsham eventually heard.
Robert Needham applied to Hampshire Police, but Sussex Police granted the application in 2016 because he moved. He bought the gun from a registered dealer nine days before using it in the shootings in Woodmancote in March 2020 – just days before the shootings.
Giving evidence at the inquest, Chief Superintendent Nigel Lecointe, from Hampshire Police, said Rob Needham did not declare any police cautions or convictions, or any relevant medical conditions including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, in his form.
Had he told the truth, police would not have granted him the licence. Kelly Fitzgibbons’ twin sister Emma Ambler now campaigns for tougher laws on gun ownership.
The Fitzgibbons on Murder in the Family
Murder in the Family begins with a devastating montage of Rob and Kelly, with their beautiful children Ava and Lexi. In one video, eldest daughter Ava says: “I want to be a princess when I grow up.”
The two girls, who are described as “angelic” and “mischievous” by family members, were found lying side by side on the double bed in their parents’ bedroom. They were in their pyjamas, under the duvet.
In a statement read to the court, Rob’s family said the killings were a “diabolical tragedy”. Kelly’s twin Emma Ambler said: “Rob absolutely adored the girls. Ava was a real daddy’s girl. Kelly had never told me Rob was violent towards her and the girls in any way.”
Read more: My ex-husband burned my mother to death in front of me – I blame the police
Murder in the Family episodes 1 to 3 are currently available to watch on ITVX.
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