A GRIEVING mother killed her son and then committed suicide just three months after marrying for the second time, shocked neighbours claimed today.
Tragic Michelle Stephen is understood to have suffocated Leon, five, as she struggled to cope with the recent death of her father.
The 31-year-old clerical assistant and her son were found dead in their Edinburgh home on Tuesday afternoon by Barry Stephen, whom she married last November.
Mrs Stephen, who would have celebrated her 32nd birthday on March 11, appeared to have killed her young son before killing herself.
According to a police insider, she had called Leon’s school in the Sighthill area of the city earlier in the day to say he would not be coming in.
Locals said Mrs Stephen had been struggling to cope following the recent death of her father, Jim Weir.
The 57-year-old prison officer died of cancer late last year and it is understood his daughter brought her wedding forward so that he could attend.
Flowers, teddy bears and cards bearing messages of sympathy and support were left outside the home in Parkhead Grove where the tragedy happened.
One message read: “’Michelle and Leon, you are with the angels.”
On another, a school friend from Murrayburn Primary had written: “Leon I will miss playing with you XXX Callum.”
Neighbour NJ Swane knew Leon well. “Leon and his friends always asked me for a high five when they saw me coming,” he said. “He always used to tell me what he was getting up to with his buddies.”
Mr Swane, 32, added: “He was a very quiet boy but was always out on the street playing with his friends. I’m so saddened to hear what happened to him.
“I was leaving the house yesterday when I saw several police cars arriving but I had no idea what was going on until today. I just can’t believe it. It’s an utter tragedy.”
Another neighbour, Ernie Wishaw, 54, who lives in the block of flats next to Mrs Stephen’s house said: “I’ve lived here for many years and have never seen anything so sad.
“It doesn’t bear thinking about. The young lad used to always be out in the garden. You’d always see him out on the trampoline with the neighbours having a laugh.
“It’s a very sad day for the whole neighbourhood,” he added.
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “From what we have heard Michelle’s father had passed away from cancer two or three weeks ago.
“Sadly it seems she couldn’t cope with being left without him.
“You hear about these cases from time to time, but when it happens locally it is a real blow.
“It’s just an absolutely tragic case that will affect the whole community.”
Lollipop man Robert Latiner, 68, said: “I knew the wee laddie very well, he used to come across with his mum everyday. You get to know the kids very well from primary one right until they leave for secondary school. I talked to him, he only started school in August.
“I just can’t understand why he should suffer, there’s a lot wrong with the world. It makes me sick. The kids will miss him that’s for sure. I’ve worked here for six years and I hope I never hear anything like it again”
A broken trampoline could be seen in the garden of the property today with an orange slide, children’s table, and purple seesaw nearby.
The bodies of the mother and son were found late on Tuesday afternoon when Mr Stephen returned from his job as a sales assistant.
Emergency services were called to the scene, but the two could not be revived.
Today, Mr Stephen was being comforted at his parents’ home nearby. Mr Stephen answered the intercom at the block of flats to say: “I really don’t want to talk about what’s happened.”
His mother, Sharon, then came to the door of their flat to say: “Barry is devastated and I am devastated – we really don’t want to talk about it.”
Born Michelle Weir, she married Kevin Weston – Leon’s father – in 2004.
The couple divorced in 2009 and Mr Weston, who now lives in Dalkeith, Midlothian, also declined to speak to the press today.
Mrs Stephen married again at the upmarket, £230-a-night Braid Hills Hotel in the city’s Morningside district.
It is understood she worked at St Augustine’s RC High School in the city.
Chief Insp Richard Thomas of Lothian and Borders Police spoke to journalists at the scene.
He said: “At around 5 o’clock last night, a treble 9 call was received at this address.
“Police attended quickly to the scene and found two bodies, that of a 31-year-old woman and a five-year-old boy.
“It is a very tragic set of circumstances and it is very early in the investigation process.
“There is a police presence in the area to reassure residents.
“There is an inquiry team at Leith carrying out inquiries.”
Ch Insp Thomas said officers were “not in a position to confirm who lived with the woman”.
He added: “Post mortems will be carried out and we will notify next of kin.
“The deaths are being treated as unexplained.
Asked if anyone else was being questioned he said it was too early to say.
A statement posted on the Edinburgh Prison Officers’ Social Club Facebook page today said: “No easy way to announce this and of course most people will have heard the tragic news.
“Michelle and Leon passed away last night, our thoughts are with Baz, Auntie Sue and [Jim Weir’s] family. Funeral details will be posted later. R.I.P xxxx”
A post from 6 January on the same site revealed: “After a brave battle fought with his usual charm and wit, Jimmy ‘Hagar’ Weir left us this morning R.I.P to a great officer, friend and a superb father and grandfather. the club sends sincere condolences to the family especially to Michelle, Baz & Leon.”
The deaths happened less than two miles away from where Theresa Riggi killed her three children in 2010.
Riggi is currently serving a 16-year jail sentence after she stabbed the children and then jumped from a second-floor balcony.