Widow of Briton shot dead in South Africa: 'He pleaded with robbers not to hurt our children'

Last updated at 10:49 09 January 2008

The widow of a British businessman murdered by raiders at his home in South Africa described how he pleaded for his children to be spared moments before he was killed.

Father-of-six Fred Picton-Turbervill, 46, sat passively on the floor, his widow Ursula said.

"He was not in any way, shape or form provoking them. He was holding me and I was holding the kids," she said.

"All he was saying was please do not hurt my kids."

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The two men burst into his fortified home in an affluent Waterkloof Ridge suburb of Pretoria, the country's capital, on Saturday evening.

Mrs Picton-Turbervill, 41, described the violent break-in in which her husband was murdered in front of her two eldest daughters.

She told BBC Radio Good Evening Wales news programme last night how a quiet family scene was shattered by the break-in.

"The family was sitting watching DVDs and the children were in and out of the house playing on trampolines," she said.

"We heard our dog start barking and we went outside to see what was going on and my husband saw the one man come through and he just shouted 'run'."

She added: "They came running in, they were both armed and they got us down on the floor and said 'sleep, sleep, sleep'."

One of the two men "came and kicked my husband in the head then kicked him in the sides. Then the second man stood back and shot him in the head. Then they got me to go round the house and get jewellery."

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She said after the men left there was a delay before calling the police because the home's landline was cut and their mobile phones stolen.

As a result time elapsed before paramedics were able to get to the scene.

"But the neurosurgeon said that even if he had been at the scene two seconds later there was absolutely no chance that he could have saved my husband."

She said the killing traumatised the family.

"My two elder daughters actually saw the man shoot him in the head, which is more than what I saw, so they are absolutely traumatised.

"We are all very, very traumatised. We keep thinking that it is all just a bad dream and it will be all right tomorrow."

She wept as she explained that she was being kept busy making arrangements for the funeral.

The couple's home had previously been targeted by raiders, she said.

"We had had break-ins before but in all the break-ins before the guys weren't armed.

"We are not complacent but we always wanted to bring our children up so they could be free. It is clear that is not now the case. The criminals are free and we are in prison.

"At this stage these people have absolutely no values in life. You know they killed for a cell phone."

She said her husband's body will be cremated at a local church this week after which his ashes would be flown back to the UK to be scattered in Wales where he grew up.