Barbara Coombes, 63, of Reddish, Stockport, was sentenced to nine years in prison last week after she confessed to killing her father and burying his body in the backyard of their home 12 years ago. She told the court that a “black cloud” came over her after she discovered his collection of child pornography, including indecent images of herself.
Coombes went to a police station in Stockport on Jan. 7, 2018, where she admitted to killing her father, Kenneth Coombes, 87, back in 2006. She told police she “snapped” in January, 2006 when she came across naked photographs of herself and another child, The Guardian reported.
Here’s what you need to know about Coombes:
1. Coombes Came Across a Box on Her Father’s Table Filled with Explicit Pornographic Pictures of Herself as a Child
Coombes had been helping her elderly father with yard work near Manchester, England, when she found a box sitting on his dining room table. After sifting through the box, she was repulsed to find a trove of pornographic photos of children, including explicit pictures of herself as a child, according to a court hearing reported by the Manchester Evening News.
“I could feel a black cloud appearing over me,” Coombes said in court this week, according to the Evening News. “In a haze of disgust and disbelief, I picked up a shovel I had been gardening with and walked into the living room where my father was standing.”
The images brought back painful memories of a long life of physical, sexual and verbal abuse at he hands of her father, according to the Guardian. She alleged that her father used her as a “sex slave” and raped her hundreds of times.
According to the Washington Post, Coombes said she was afraid she was not the only victim of her father. She told investigators that her father took her to a photography club where he “forced her to display her genitals while other men took photographs of her.”
2. She Used a Shovel to Cut Her Father’s Throat, Buried Him in the Backyard & Kept His Death a Secret for 12 Years
Coombes told the Greater Manchester Police that she took the shovel she was using to garden, walked back into the house and struck the 87-year-old man, Kenneth Coombes, in the back of the head. She then hit him once more and used the blade of the shovel to slit her father’s throat. She told police that she watched him bleed to death, the Evening News reports.
Coombes wrapped her father’s body in an old rug, dragged him back out to the garden and hid his body behind a tree. She left his body and waited until the following day to buy 2,000 pounds of soil. She then buried his body in an unmarked grave, “circled neatly with bricks,” according to Fox News.
For 12 years, she lived in the same home, police said, her bedroom window only yards away from the body of her father. She elaborately covered up his death, telling family members her father died suddenly and the hospital cremated him. Neighbors said they thought the man moved away and did not question his sudden disappearance.
“To my knowledge this man Kenneth just disappeared,” Terry Sever, a neighbor, told the Manchester Evening News. “I was not that friendly to ask where he went. I just did not see him anymore.”
3. Coombes Suffered from Severe PTSD & Depression, but Allegedly Showed “No Concern for What She Had Done”
Coombes kept her secret for over a decade, all the while profiting off of her father’s death, according to the Washington Post. According to police, she received more than 180 thousand pounds in benefits, the equivalent today of $236 thousand.
The BBC reported that the “net began to tighten,” forcing Coombes to turn herself in, after she started receiving welfare visits from a local housing association looking for Kenneth Coombes. Shortly before a scheduled meeting, she walked into a police station and confessed to killing her father, according to the BBC.
Although prosecutors in court described Coombes as suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, 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.
“Despite having years to tell someone what really happened, she only came forward when she had no other choice,” Thorpe added.
4. Kenneth Coombes May Have Also Been the Father to Her First Child, According to Her Lawyer
Coombes’ lawyer, Martin Heslop, said his client was “treated as a slave” by her father.
“She had no friends, no life outside the house where she was treated as a slave and controlled by her father and had no one to talk to,” Heslop said, according to Fox News.
Heslop said it was also possible Kenneth Coombes may have been the father to Barbara Coombes’ first child. The child died after birth, according to the Guardian.
Coombes pleaded not guilty to murdering her father but “guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility” on Wednesday.
Judge Timothy King sentenced her to nine years in prison saying he “did not accept she acted in self-defense” but “accepted she killed while suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression as a result of 40 years of extreme mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of your father,” according to Fox News.
5. Many Twitter Users Stood Behind Coombes & Believe Her Sentence is Unfair, Claiming She Did the World a Favor By Removing a Pedophile From the World
Shortly after the news of her arrest broke, Twitter was flooded with mixed feelings on the topic, although many showed public support of her actions. Some users went as far as to call him a demon and claimed she did the world a favor by removing a pedophile from the world.
“She killed a man who had abused her for years, who was also a paedophile [sic],” user Holly Homan wrote. “She removed a demon & didn’t negatively impact anything else but we’ve imprisoned her for 9 years. I can’t.”
Others wrote that they supported Coombes “without hesitation,” and they are happy that she stood up for her rights to live an abuse-free life. Many simply stated that she sympathized with the woman and understood her actions after so many years of abuse at the hands of her own father.