Murder by the Sea: The Mochries

I learned a chilling term while researching my contribution to tonight’s episode of Murder by the Sea – the ‘Family Annihilator’.

It’s hard not be saddened, perplexed, annoyed that a man can rationalise the act of killing his whole family. One newspaper summed what many thought back in 2000 – How could he do it?

To all appearances Robert Mochrie, 49, and his wife, Catherine, 45, lived a comfortable life in Rutland Close, Barry, South Wales. They shared their £250,000 home with their children – Bethan, 10, Luke, 14, Sian, 16, and James, 18 – on a neighbourly suburban estate.

Robert and Catherine had been married for 23 years and were, so most people thought, a loving couple.

Barry & District News headline about the Mochrie murders
A headline that sums up most people’s instinctive reaction

That was until a good friend of Catherine’s, Debbie Zeraschi, who lived on the estate, became impatient to know why the Mochrie house was so quiet. It was usually bustling with the youngsters coming and going.

Catherine had said nothing to Zeraschi about going away. During 11 days of eerie quiet at the Mochrie’s home, Zeraschi noticed that there was a smell, and the flies.

With the help of a friend, Zeraschi climbed a ladder and looked into Luke’s bedroom. On the bed was a shape.

She called the police.

One of the many appalling aspects of this case was how difficult it must have been for the officers who answered that call. No amount of training could have readied them.

Leaving a note for the milkman

Robert Mochie, a former civil servant turned businessman, had gone around his darkened home and bludgeoned his wife and children to death.

An indication of how detached from rationality he had become soon became apparent to detectives. Mochrie spent the next 24 hours getting everything in order.

He cancelled Bethan’s lifts to school. He left a note for the milkman – ‘No milk until Friday.’

He put the cat and dog out. He cleaned up the blood, even though he had no intention of hiding his crime. CONTINUED

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