A woman has been sentenced to nine years in prison after confessing to killing her father and burying his body in her back garden in Greater Manchester after a “lifetime of abuse” at his hands.
Barbara Coombes, 63, walked into a police station in Stockport on 7 January this year and told officers that she had killed her father 12 years earlier.
Detectives began a murder investigation and started digging up her garden in Reddish, Stockport. Two days after she confessed, police found the body of her father, Kenneth Coombes, a second world war veteran. He would have been 87 at the time of his death.
She later claimed he had sexually abused her for more than 40 years, since she was five, and had used her like a “sex slave”. He raped her hundreds of times throughout her life, she told psychiatrists.
He may even have been the father of her first child, David, who died shortly after birth, her barrister, Martin Heslop QC, told Manchester crown court on Wednesday.
When Coombes was aged somewhere between six and nine, her father took her to a photography club where he forced her to display her genitals while other men took photographs of her, she claimed.
The abuse continued right until he died, she said. He would constantly touch her breasts even as she entered her fifth decade. She said she had no friends, no hobbies, had never worked and only rarely left Reddish her whole life.
Coombes told police that she “snapped” one day in January 2006 after discovering naked baby photographs of her herself and another child among her father’s belongings. She feared she was not her father’s only victim, she said, “and a black cloud appeared over me”.
She said she grabbed a spade she had been using in the garden, went into the living room and hit her father on the back of the head. He asked her what she was doing and she said that she feared he would “inflict life-threatening injuries on me or kill me” and used the sharp end of the spade to cut his throat. She then wrapped his body in an old carpet and hid him from her daughter, Islay, who was then 18, and buried him the following day.
At Manchester crown court on Wednesday, Coombes pleaded not guilty to murdering her father but guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Helen Pidd