FORMER University of York students Neil and Rachel Entwistle were a “cute” family, a “friendly and happy” family, according to their neighbours.

Good looking too, with handsome husband Neil, bubbly and popular schoolteacher wife Rachel and sweet little baby Lillian.

But their perfect world was to crash on a winter’s night in Massachusetts, America, which left mother and nine-month-old child dead and 27-years-old Neil Entwistle fleeing the country onboard a British Airways jet from Boston to Heathrow.

The ensuing murder trial raised such high emotions in America the venue was switched from Middlesex, Mass. to Woburn, about 20 miles away, because local media reports claimed some potential jurors had already formed “significant views” before it began.

Around the Millennium, Rachel Souza, as she then was, came to England from Carver, Massachusetts, to study at the University of York, where she met Neil Entwistle, an electronics engineering student.

The couple married in August 2003 and soon after moved to live in Droitwich, near Birmingham, where their daughter Lillian was born on April 9, 2005.

Entwistle worked in computing and his wife as a teacher of English, drama and theatre studies at St Augustine’s Catholic High School in Redditch.

With her American accent and zest for life, Rachel Entwistle soon became a very popular member of staff. When her death hit the headlines, former pupils flooded the couple’s website with tributes. She was described as “a lovely woman with not a bad bone in her body” and one student said: “She was my theatre studies teacher for three years and was absolutely wonderful. She brightened up every lesson with her great personality.”

The Entwistles decided to leave Droitwich and move to America late in 2005. Initially, they stayed with Rachel's mother and stepfather, Joseph and Priscilla Matterazzo, in Carver, Massachusetts, before finding a house of their own in nearby Hopkinton. It was there, on the morning of January 22, 2006, police made a grim discovery.

Alerted by friends of the Entwistles, who had arrived for a party the previous evening only to find the house in darkness, officers came across the bodies of Rachel and baby Lillian side by side under sheets in the master bedroom.

There was little evidence of blood and no obvious signs of foul play. In fact the initial suspicion was carbon monoxide poisoning. It was only at the autopsy the tiny bullet holes were confirmed. Rachel, aged 27, had died of a gunshot wound to the head and Lillian of a gunshot wound to the torso.

Of Neil Entwistle there was no sign. It later transpired that hours after the deaths of his wife and daughter, Entwistle purchased a one-way ticket to London at about 5am on January 21 and boarded a British Airways flight that departed Boston at 8.15 am. Once back in the UK be made his way to his parents’ home in Worksop. There the phone rang and it was Massachusetts police.

He told them that on the morning of the murders, he had left his Hopkinton home at around 9am to run an errand and that his wife and daughter had both been alive and well in the bed in the couple's master bedroom.

He claimed that when he returned at around 11am he found both had been shot dead and had no idea who had killed them. He covered their bodies with a blanket, but did not tell police.

However Entwistle’s DNA was found on the handle of a .22 handgun owned by the father and DNA matching that of wife Rachel was found on the gun’s muzzle. A set of keys to the Materazzo's house was found in the car Entwistle left at Boston's Logan airport.

A police search of Entwistle's computer revealed that days before the murders, he had looked at a website which described "how to kill people".

Contrary to outward appearances, Entwistle had been unemployed since September 2005 and was deeply in debt. He was also under investigation by eBay for numerous fraudulent transactions and authorities suspected a financial motivation for the murders.

In February, 2006, Entwistle was arrested by Met Police on a London Underground train at Royal Oak station and eventually agreed to be extradited to America.

At his trial for double murder in June 2008 in Woburn, Massachusetts, he called no witnesses, nor did he testify in his own defence.

He had previously claimed his wife shot baby Lillian and then committed suicide. The police case was that he had taken the gun from the Materazzo's home, shot his wife and baby and then returned it on his way to Boston airport.

Entwistle was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Two appeals against the verdicts have proved unsuccessful.

He was originally incarcerated at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, but after his life was threatened by a white supremacist prison gang, he was transferred to Old Colony Correctional Center, a medium security prison in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he remains, still protesting his innocence.