Cops, friends at Alps victims’ home

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Copy of iol news pic Alps victims UK home 3 Reuters Plainclothes Surrey police officers stand outside of the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, south of London September 6, 2012. French police have found a girl aged about 4 alive in a car with the dead bodies of three adult relatives following a gruesome shooting attack on a family of British holidaymakers on a remote road in the French Alps. The English-speaking girl was discovered around midnight on Wednesday, huddled between the front and back seats of the British-registered BMW, under the legs of two dead women thought to be her mother and grandmother, a public prosecutor said. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Claygate, United Kingdom - A plainclothes policewoman stood on watch on Thursday outside a comfortable British house believed to be the home of a family shot dead in their car in the French Alps.

The policewoman was posted outside the spacious detached house in Claygate near Esher, a leafy residential district of Surrey to the southwest of London, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

The house is believed to belong to the al-Hilli family, Iraqis who came to live and work in Britain, with the father of the family, Saad al-Hilli, making a living in the aerospace industry.

A friend of the family delivered white flowers that were taken by a uniformed policeman outside the house.

Saad al-Hilli, 50, was a “nice guy”, said the friend, who refused to be identified.

A four-year-old girl survived the brutal gun attack on Wednesday by curling up under the bullet-riddled corpses of her mother and grandmother.

Her father, who was found dead in the driver's seat of the BMW estate car in Chevaline near Annecy, was born in Baghdad.

Another daughter, seven, was found alive but with a fractured skull outside the car.

Friends and neighbours described the family as friendly and saw them often on the school run.

Hilli's accountant Julian Stedman told AFP outside the house: “I never dreamed it would be him. It's a total and utter shock to me.”

He said the family had taken a caravan off on holiday with them to the French Alps.

Asked if Hilli had any enemies, Stedman said: “None that I know of.”

Local postman Gary Standford said Hilli had “seemed a pleasant man”.

“He'd been living here for about three years,” Standford said.

A woman who lives in a house near the al-Hilli family said she sometimes took the family's daughters to school.

“We used to see the couple on the school run. They were lovely, they were very friendly people with really sweet little girls.”

A profile on the LinkedIn business networking website describes Saad al-Hilli as a consultant in the aviation and aerospace industry.

Stedman said Hilli was a director of aerospace firm Sctech Limited.

His accountant said he was a computer design specialist.

“He would be working for several months for one company and then possibly move on when the work dried up,” Stedman said

“He tended to work mainly for one company at a time.”

“He worked very hard,” he said, but added that Hilli was a “very jovial” person.

The accountant said he had seen Hilli shortly before the family left for France on August 29.

The elderly woman found dead in the car was his mother-in-law, Stedman said.

French investigators have said she had a Swedish passport.

A Surrey police spokeswoman said the force was assisting French authorities in the investigation. - Sapa-AFP


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