Woman charged with murder 'falsely claimed father's pension for years after burying him in back garden'

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
Ken Coombes pictured in his youth. (Mercury Press)
Ken Coombes pictured in his youth. (Mercury Press)

A woman accused of murdering her father and burying his body in her back garden will go on trial later this year.

Barbara Coombes, 63, has been charged with murder after she confessed to killing a man and burying his body in her back garden.

Her father Ken has been missing for years.

Ms Coombes allegedly tried to falsely claim the pension of her father Ken for years, having buried him behind her home in Reddish, Stockport.

Coombes has been charged with murder, preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body, fraud by false representation and obtaining a pecuniary advantage.

She appeared at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday morning for a brief hearing, and was remanded in custody.

The mother-of-one, who appeared in court in black-rimmed spectacles and a brown woolly jumper and spoke only to confirm her name, has also been charged with preventing Kenneth Coombes’ lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation, sending official letters in the name of Mr Coombes, intending to make a gain by claiming monies not belonging to herself.

<em>Remains were found in the garden of a house in Reddish (PA)</em>
Remains were found in the garden of a house in Reddish (PA)

Officially, police are still investigating the disappearance of her father, Kenneth Coombes, who has not been seen for 10 to 15 years.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have yet to formally identify the remains found in the garden.

The results of a Home Office post-mortem have not yet been disclosed.

Coombes walked into Cheadle Heath Police Station on Sunday to tell officers she had killed a man, prompting police to dig up her back garden where they found human remains.

Officers have gone door-to-door handing a questionnaire to neighbours to say they are investigating the death of Mr Coombes, saying he would have been in his late 80s in 2005.

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”.

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

<em>Police dug up the garden shortly after Coombes confessed to the murder (PA)</em>
Police dug up the garden shortly after Coombes confessed to the murder (PA)

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.”

Detective Inspector Dan Clegg, from GMP’s Major Incident Team, said: “I would like to thank the community for their support as we continue to carry out our inquiries 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.”