In January, Barbara Coombes walked into a police station in Stockport, England, and announced that she had killed her father 12 years earlier

By Adam Carlson
July 18, 2018 02:05 PM
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In January, a 63-year-old woman walked into a police station in Stockport, England, and announced that she had killed her father 12 years earlier, burying his body in their garden not far from her bedroom.

Though she seemed notably stoic, the woman, Barbara Coombes, would later detail how dad Kenneth Coombes, 87, had abused her physically and sexually for decades, dating back to when she was 5 years old, according to the Guardian.

Barbara described herself as like her father’s “sex slave,” the newspaper reports, and said the abuse included hundreds of rapes and frequent molestation. Her life was a barren one, she said, devoid of friends, hobbies or a job.

She “snapped” when she killed Kenneth in January 2006 after she found child pornography in the home they shared, her attorney, Martin Heslop, said in a news release. Among the illicit images were nude photos of Barbara, as a baby, and another child, the Guardian reports.

Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Barbara had been gardening that day and it was her spade that she used to fatally strike Kenneth, according to Greater Manchester police — first in the back of his head and then again when he turned around.

A “black cloud appeared over me,” Barbara later recalled, the Guardian reports. She said she was “utterly disgusted and mortified” as she went to confront her dad, according to the BBC.

Afterward, she hid his body in a rug, buried it in their garden and removed his belongings from the residence, police said.

To their relatives, she explained that Kenneth had died and been cremated, police said, but she “concealed” his death from the government and over the years received more than 180,000 pounds, or $230,000, in various benefits.

Still, public officials eventually “insisted” on meeting with Kenneth in January. Then, a day before that planned appointment, Barbara confessed what happened to police.

Last week, she was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter, a prosecutor’s spokeswoman tells PEOPLE. Barbara, now 64, also pleaded to fraud and obtaining property by deception as well as preventing a lawful and decent burial.

She admitted the manslaughter was committed by reason of diminished capacity, according to her attorney, who also said that she had post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.

The scene at Barbara Coombes’ home in England, where she buried her father after killing him in 2006
| Credit: Joel Goodman/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

The BBC reports that prosecutors said there was evidence supporting Barbara’s account of her torturous life with her dad — which she reportedly revealed months into her stay in police custody, during her fourth psychiatric interview.

The judge in her case found similarly, describing what she endured as “40 years of extreme mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of your father,” and he said she lacked self-control and rational judgment, according to the Guardian. But he rejected that she killed Kenneth in self-defense.

Law enforcement took a harsher tone about the crime.

“She showed absolutely no concern for what she had done and denied everyone the chance to say goodbye, as Kenneth lay buried at the bottom of his own garden, just [meters] from her own bedroom window,” Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe, of the Greater Manchester police, said in a statement upon Barbara’s sentencing.

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“Despite having years to tell someone what really happened, she only came forward when she had no other choice,” Thorpe said. “The impact on the family and friends of all concerned cannot be underestimated. As these tragic events have come to an end I hope that the family can now move forward with their lives.”

Barbara’s daughter, however, said in court that she would support her despite her anguish, according to the Guardian. “I hope when this is done we can repair our relationship to something approaching normal,” she said, in part.

“This has to be one of the most tragic cases to come to the courts,” said Heslop, Barbara’s attorney, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Of her nine-year prison term, the judge said: “Some may think that wholly inadequate, others might say it’s far too much given the history of abuse. I have no doubt in the round it is an appropriate sentence.”

A message left with Barbara’s attorney was not immediately returned on Wednesday.