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Dad who ‘gassed family to death was having affair with girl, 17, in Philippines’

A father suspected of gassing his family to death was allegedly having an affair with a 17-year-old girl he met in the Philippines.

Fernando Manrique, 44, is accused of turning his house in a 'gas chamber' by wiring a device from the garden shed into the roof of the family home.

It is claimed Manrique channelled a deadly gas into their Sydney home, killing himself, his wife Maria Lutz and their two young autistic children, Elisa and Martin.

The family were found dead in October 2016, after friends of Maria became worried when she didn't reply to their messages or take the children to school on Monday morning.

Police found Maria dead in bed, alongside her 12-year-old daughter Elisa.

Manrique was found slumped in the hallway while Martin, 11, was found in another bedroom.

The family dog, named Tequila, was also found dead next to Martin, reports .

Judge Truscott said there was no indication Maria was involved in her children’s deaths, saying: "The impression the friends of Maria have given the court is to make it very clear Maria loved her life and had every intention of continuing a loving and productive life with her children.

“There’s no suggestion in any of the evidence the deaths were merciful at all. She didn’t require mercy, she provided her two children with the utmost."

In an inquest into the tragic deaths, lawyer Adam Casselden said it was likely the family died sometime between 11am on the Sunday and 11am on the Monday.

Manrique and Maria were childhood sweethearts who emigrated from Colombia to Australia.

The inquest heard the couple were in financial trouble, with Manrique being made redundant from his job and building up credit card debts of $28,000 (£15,000).

Manrique had set up a new business after losing his job and work often took him to the Phillipines.

He told friends he was struggling in his relationship with his wife and had started "hooking up" with other women during his business trips abroad.

It was also heard how Manrique had been wiring thousands of dollars to a 17-year-old girl called Jamielyn in the Phillipines.

He is said to have met the teenager in a bar in 2016 before going to to start a long-distance relationship with her.

Maria is said to have found out about the relationship, leading to further breakdown in their marriage.

Manrique had moved out of the family home before returning temporarily while he looked for somewhere to live.

However, Detective Sergeant Pooley said Manrique had already formulated a plan to gas the family after opening an account with BOC – a company supling carbon monoxide.

He had also visited DIY store Bunnings to buy, what investigators believe, was equipment to gas the family, such as gas cylinders.

Det Sgt Pooley said: “The gas cylinders were locked in the garden shed with a padlock he bought in Bunnings."

The inquest continues.

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