Neighbours shocked as body found buried in garden after killing confession

Police at the scene on Matlock Road in Reddish (Danny Lawson/PA)
Police at the scene on Matlock Road in Reddish (Danny Lawson/PA)

Shocked residents spoke today after murder squad detectives discovered a man’s body buried in the back garden of a house on a quiet suburban street.

A woman – named locally as Barbara Coombes – lives at the address, with her father Kenneth Coombes also listed as living at 19 Matlock Road in Reddish, Stockport.

Police said a 63-year-old woman walked into a local police station on Sunday confessing she had killed a man “a number of years ago”.

Police searching a garden on Matlock Road in Reddish have found a body after a woman reported that she had killed a man and buried him in the garden a number of years ago

— G M Police (@gmpolice) January 9, 2018

Officers have gone door-to-door handing out a questionnaire to say they are investigating the death of Kenneth Coombes, stating he would have been in his late 80s in 2005. Mr Coombes would have been 99 years old today.

Barbara Coombes is registered at the address, along with an Islay Coombes, 29, believed to be her daughter, a student.

Police have not confirmed the identity of the woman held in custody or identified the murder victim.

A Home Office post-mortem examination is due to take place to establish cause of death.

Neighbours described Barbara Coombes as a quiet woman, only ever seen out walking her small dog when she would say no more than “hello” to passers-by.

Another local described the family as “odd”.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed on Tuesday night that human remains had been found and neighbours said a private ambulance drove away from the address at about 10pm.

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he first noticed a white forensic tent go up in the garden on Sunday.

He said: “You never expect anything like this on your doorstep.

“All the neighbours are shocked and everyone is talking about it, but no-one seems to know much about that family.”

His daughter said: “My older sister went to school with their daughter, Islay, and was in her year.

“No-one knows what she does, she’s not on Facebook but has a Linkedin account and is registered on a couch surfing website in Manchester.

“I’ve seen her around here but don’t know her.”

Islay Coombes, who went to local Reddish Vale High School, has a Linkedin profile that says she is studying at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Neighbour Stella Ashton said: “You can see the back garden from the back of our house.

“We could see two forensic tents, it was all very, very bright, lit up last night, very, very bright and the light was reflecting off the white of the tents.”

“It’s all covered but you could see activity going on.”

Mrs Ashton added: “Best thoughts go to the woman whatever mental state she was in.

“I didn’t know there was going to be a body, didn’t know there had been a murder.

“We just saw the forensic teams and assumed there had been a break-in.

“Police came yesterday. Just asked if I had heard anything, any whispers.

“I didn’t hear anything other than she lived with her parents, many years ago her mum died and shortly afterwards her dad wasn’t seen again.

“This morning I had to come out with my two children because they get the private school bus at the end of this road and had to walk them through this area here.

“It was a bit daunting this morning when it was dark and police would only escort them one by one through, they wouldn’t let the children walk through on their own.

“We aspired to live here for years, it’s so, so nice, so quiet.”

Police said the woman arrested on suspicion of murder on Sunday remains in custody for questioning and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Detective Inspector Dan Clegg, from GMP’s major incident team, said: “The investigation is still in its early stages and many questions still need answers.

“We will continue our work at the scene and hope in the coming days we can piece together the exact circumstances surrounding the man’s death.

“I would like to thank the community for their support as we continue to carry out our enquiries and we would like to reassure them that this is being treated incredibly seriously, and we will do all that we can to find out what happened.”

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