ENGLAND cricket hero Ben Stokes has been living with a secret family tragedy — his half-brother and sister were shot dead.
His mum Deb’s two children Tracey, eight, and Andrew, four, were killed by her ex Richard Dunn in 1988 before Ben’s birth.
Cricket ace Ben’s birth gave his grief-stricken mum Deb “something to live for” after her jealous ex killed their two children, a family source reveals.
The England star has never spoken publicly about the murder of Tracey and Andrew by their dad Richard Dunn.
He and Deb had furious rows after they split and he discovered she had taken up with rugby coach Gerard Stokes.
Dunn had weekend custody of the children and shot them both dead before turning the gun on himself in April 1988.
Deb’s two children Tracey, eight, and Andrew, four, were killed by her ex Richard Dunn[/caption]
Distraught Deb became pregnant with Gerard’s child while grieving for Tracey and Andrew — and gave birth to their half-brother Ben three years later.
The source said: “Ben was born at a time of terrible tragedy. Deb was enduring every parents’ worst possible nightmare and his arrival gave her something to live for.
“It’s incredible that he’s achieved so much as a cricketer and made her so proud.”
KILLER’S GIRL TELLS OF TRAGEDY
On Monday Jacqui Dunn — the killer’s daughter from a previous marriage — spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time.
The office worker, now 49, was 18 at the time of the murders and says she can remember the “terrible shock” of hearing the news.
Jacqui Dunn, the killer’s daughter from a previous marriage, speaks publicly about the tragedy[/caption]
Jacqui shares ‘newspaper cuttings about what Dad did’ as she talks about it for the first time[/caption]
She told The Sun: “I couldn’t believe Dad would do such a thing. It was just horrible.
“Deb was so angry and traumatised she kicked the coffin at his funeral and I’ve never seen or heard from her since.
“And I had absolutely no idea she’s had another son who became an England cricket star.
“Dad worshipped his kids and became obsessed with the idea he wouldn’t be allowed to see them — he just lost his mind.
“I was working in a shoe shop at the time and my dad came looking for me the day before the shootings, but I was on my lunch break.
“I never saw him again and he took those lovely kids with him.”
JEALOUS EX WENT AFTER BEN’S MUM
Friends said Deb was “destroyed by grief” when she learned that jobless Dunn, 39, had killed their children at his flat in Christchurch, New Zealand.
He drove to her home after shooting them with a rifle, but she had left to go to work. He then torched the building.
Alerted to the fire, armed cops raced to his apartment and Dunn retreated inside.
Ten minutes later, they heard two shots and found him dead. They then discovered the children’s bodies.
The family source added: “Dick took it badly when he and Deb split up but he was such a popular, easy-going guy — really laid back.
“No one would ever have thought him capable of such evil. People who knew him well realised he could only have done such an appalling thing when the balance of his mind was disturbed. But there can never be any excuse for taking two young lives.
“Andrew and Tracey were absolutely lovely kids — both beautiful and so full of life.”
BEN BECAME LIGHT IN DARKNESS
The source said friends of Deb, herself a talented cricketer, thought she would never get over the tragedy.
But they added: “Gerard was a rock for her and when Ben came along he became the light in her darkness.”
Ben and his parents moved to the UK when he was 12 after Gerard landed a job with Workington Town rugby league club in Cumbria.
Cricket-mad Deb, who has worked as a grief counsellor since the horror of 1988, has followed her all-rounder son’s career every step of the way as he moved from amateur side Cockermouth to Durham and then to England.
She and Gerard backed him to the hilt when he was accused — and cleared — of affray after a row outside a nightclub in Bristol in 2017.
This month he spearheaded one of the greatest cricketing comebacks as he hit an unbeaten 135 in the third Ashes test against Australia. His parents, who moved back to New Zealand in 2013, cheered him on despite being Kiwi supporters.
Gerard, 63, said after the World Cup game: “Even when Ben was in nappies he had a natural talent.”
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The couple and Ben on Monday night declined to comment on the family tragedy.
But Jacqui added: “I kept all the newspaper cuttings about what Dad did but could never really bring myself to talk about it. For years I think I’ve tried to blot out what happened but I think it’s good to be open about it and talk about it now.
“I have two daughters of my own in their late 20s and I’ve only recently felt able to tell them the truth, and I feel better for it.”
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