Wigan murder inquiry after ‘potentially hazardous substance’ found on body

<span>Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Murder squad detectives are investigating the discovery of a “potentially hazardous” substance on a body dumped on a street in Wigan.

Officers were called to Kilburn Drive in Shevington, a quiet, residential village, on Thursday evening after reports of a dead body at the scene. This was confirmed shortly after emergency services arrived.

Police are trying to identify the body and inquiries are under way. They said it was too early to confirm whether the body was male or female.

Det Supt Alan Clitherow, of Greater Manchester police (GMP), said the identity and sex of the person would be confirmed once the body, which lay covered by a white and yellow police tent, had been removed from the scene and a Home Office postmortem held.

He told reporters at a press conference: “It is a challenging set of circumstances. We have got dedicated officers from the major incident team, obviously less than 24 hours into the investigation, so we are now unpicking exactly what has gone on.

“We don’t know what the substance is, we have done some initial inquiries, we know it’s low risk … anyone directly in contact with the body should seek medical advice if they feel unwell but there’s no wider risk to anyone else.”

He said members of the public should not be alarmed if they saw officers wearing protective clothing to remove the body, and it was “purely precautionary”.

The body was found on rough ground between neighbouring houses that leads to a dirt track and open fields.

The location was cordoned off on Friday afternoon and residents within the cordon reported not being able to leave their homes. A crime scene investigation team arrived at the scene shortly before midday.

One resident told the Manchester Evening News: “Police were already here when I got home from work at around 10.30 last night. Fire engines were here as well. It’s normally quiet round here though. Nothing ever happens.”

The nature of the substance is unknown. Two people had a “corrosive substance” thrown at them earlier this year in Tyldesley, a town on the opposite side of the metropolitan borough of Wigan.

PA Media contributed to this report