News Criminal Defence 13th Jul 2018

Martin Heslop QC Secures Sympathetic Sentence for 63 yr Old Who Killed Her Father and Buried Him in Her Garden After Lifetime of Abuse

Martin Heslop QC represented 63 year old Barbara Coombes who handed herself into police in January of this year. Coombes admitted to killing her father 12 years previously and burying him in her garden at their shared property in Stockport.

Coombes was mentally, physically and sexually abused by her father for 40 years and ‘snapped’ upon finding indecent and pornographic photographs of children including one of her own daughter taken by him. Coombes had been gardening when she came across the pictures and hit her father over the head with a shovel which was in her hand at the time.

Coombes was able to conceal the body for 12 years and told relatives that her father had died from a heart attack but that he would not have wanted a funeral as he “didn’t want a fuss”. Suspicions were raised following a visit from the housing association, with Coombes handing herself in to her local police station the day before a follow up appointment from them.

Prosecutors accepted she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a severe depressive illness which “substantially impaired” her responsibility.

Coombes pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was jailed for just nine years. She also admitted preventing a decent burial and fraud by claiming her father’s pension and benefits worth £189,125 over the previous 12 years.



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