One of the stars of the new series of the Great British Bake Off is shouldering a secret heartache.
Paul Jagger, 49, was devastated when his close friend and keen cook, Anthony Smith, killed himself after shooting his wife and two children in an incident which shocked Surrey’s stockbroker belt 14 years ago.
The two men had formed a special bond serving with the Coldstream Guards, including ceremonial duties at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the traditional parade to mark the Queen’s official birthday, Trooping the Colour.
Mr Jagger was even best man at Smith’s wedding to childhood sweetheart Kay in their home town of Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear.
A photograph shows the strapping fresh-faced guardsmen, aged 21 and proudly holding their regimental bearskins.
The wedding took place in July 1988 and Mr Jagger, sporting a full head of brown hair, stands proudly next to 6ft 4in Smith and his beautiful new bride.
Mr Jagger’s own marriage to Vivienne Wilkins took place three years later in Llanelli. The couple, who have three sons, still live in South Wales.
In early February 2001, however, Mr Jagger learned that Smith, 34, who had also served in the SAS, had used a shotgun to kill Kay, 33, Gemma, six, and Adam, three, before taking his own life.
Detectives discovered the bloodbath in the family’s £350,000 modern five-bedroomed house in Heathside Park, Camberley, after worried friends noticed milk and newspapers piling up on the doorstep.
Once inside, officers described ‘appalling carnage’. The four bodies were found in separate rooms upstairs. Smith had shot each once in the head before turning the weapon on himself, though neighbours had not heard any shots.
Family and friends were incredulous that the popular ex-soldier, who doted on his wife and children, had committed such a terrible deed.
Smith had left the regiment five years before and gone to work in the export department for Peugeot cars in Aldershot. But he left after six months to work as a bodyguard for a private security firm in London, where he could use his military expertise.
Friends believe Smith was under financial pressure.
Mr Jagger was shaken at the time but has told the MoS he has no wish to speak publicly about the deaths in respect for the couple’s surviving parents and family.
He said: ‘I’ve got over it. It was a very long time ago.’
His link with Smith emerged this week on the Coldstream Guards fan page on Facebook. Former members of Mr Jagger’s reconnaissance platoon recognised him from the line-up of contestants for this year’s show, which started last Wednesday.
Kameren Melford, from Windsor, linked him to Smith and wrote: ‘I remember him being the best man at Tony Smith’s wedding. Shortest best man speech in history!’
Mr Jagger said being in the Bake Off was ‘an opportunity to show that men like me, stereotyped by our jobs, do and can love baking and that it is still a skill and talent to be proud of’.