BRAINTREE MURDERS: Tributes pour in for double murder victims

POLICE have today launched a double murder inquiry after the bodies of a mother and daughter were found at an Essex home.

Christine Chambers, 38, and daughter Shania, two, were found at an address in Bartram Avenue, Braintree, early today.

A man is currently in hospital under police guard and officers have confirmed they are not searching for anyone else in relation to the incident.

A second child, the ten-year-old daughter of Ms Chambers, escaped through a window and ran to a relative’s home nearby.

Her brother, Stuart Flitt, 26, who lives on the same road said she was ”devastated but okay”.

“What she has seen will stay with her for the rest of her life,” he added.

A man, named locally as David Oakes and believed to be Shania’s father, was under guard in hospital after the shootings.

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At a press conference in Braintree this afternoon, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, head of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the deceased woman and child that were found dead at a home in Bartram Avenue in the early hours of Monday, June 6, 2011.

“This is a very sad and extremely rare incident and we are working closely with the community.

“The deceased are believed to be Christine Chambers, aged 38, known locally as Chrissie, and her daughter Shania who was aged two.

“The identification is of course subject to formal identification procedures which have not yet taken place. The post mortems will take place on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

“A 50-year-old man is currently in hospital under police guard. He has significant injuries, including a gun shot wound, that are not believed to be life threatening. He has not been arrested at this time while he receives medical treatment.

“Police can confirm that all of the people involved in this incident were known to each other. Police are not seeking anyone else in connection with this incident.

“We can also confirm that a fourth person, who was a 10-year-old daughter of Chrissie Chambers, was in the house but was able to get out and alert relatives who contacted the police.

“I can confirm that after receiving an emergency call, Essex Police’s firearms officers were deployed to the scene, but no shots were fired by them. A shotgun has been recovered from the scene.

“Essex Police has voluntarily referred this to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) due to previous police contact with the parties involved.

“Officers are at the scene and inquiries are continuing into the circumstances leading up to this incident.

“I would like to emphasise that incidents such as these are extremely rare. Braintree is a safe place and we would like to reassure the community that local officers are working hard to keep it that way.”

Neighbours have today told of the aftermath of the tragedy, when police had arrived on the scene.

Neighbour Karen Ballisat, 36, said: “I woke up at about 4.10am and all I could hear was shouting. I saw her home was surrounded by police. They were shouting ‘Don’t move or we will shoot’. It was like something from a horror film.

“I’ve lived here for 10 years and I’ve known her for most of that time. She was always laughing and wanting to be the centre of attention. Her daughter was a bubbly little girl. You don’t expect this on your own street.”

Angela Bass, 47, who was staying with her mother, 78-year-old Sylvia Bass, in Bartram Avenue, said she had been woken by the sound of police dogs barking in the streets.

“I looked out of my window and saw police cars, ambulances and fire engines.”

She said she had heard two “very loud bangs”.

“I thought at first it was police getting the front door to open. I don’t think it was the front door now, I believe it was gun shots.”

Neighbour Tony Challice said police arrived at the house at 3am and spent around two hours negotiating with a man at the property.

Officers could be seen attempting to talk to him through the letterbox.

He added: “It was about 4.45am when we heard two gunshots from inside the house. We saw officers rushing through the door.

“Everybody was out on the street watching. We couldn’t believe what was happening.”

Another neighbour, Karen Bathurst, said the victim was a “great mother” and her daughter was a “lovely little girl”.

“None of us can believe this has happened to them,” she said.

Karren Tomlinson, 35, who lives next door to the scene, said she was woken by the sound of gunshots.

“I heard loud bangs and a dog started barking. He is usually very quiet so I knew something was wrong. I looked out of the window and I said to my husband I could see four armed men in the back garden.

“At 4.10am we were escorted outside our house and we went over to my mum’s. I have lived next door to them for about four years and they are a lovely family.

“She has four children and two of them lived with her. She loved them all very much. She was a full-time mum.

“Shania was two-and-a-half and was an adorable little girl. She used to come out in the garden and shout to me over the fence. “She liked a bit of rough and tumble and played with my children.”

- Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call police on 0300 333 4444 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.