Father questioned over body in woodland

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The Independent Online

The father of a 19-year-old woman whose skeletal remains were found in woodland in a seaside town was today being questioned on suspicion of murder.

Medical records were used to help establish that the remains belonged to Victoria Couchman, police said.

Children playing in Redgeland Wood, near Wishing Tree Reservoir in the Queensway area of Hastings, East Sussex, found a human skull on Monday afternoon.

Further forensic searches revealed other remains, including an upper left leg, pelvic bone and tibia, which were discovered near each other and did not appear to be buried.

Sussex Police announced that a 45-year-old local man was arrested last night on suspicion of murder. Sources said the man was Ms Couchman's father.

In a short statement, police said: "Police investigating the discovery of a body believed to be that of 19-year-old Victoria Couchman from Hastings have arrested a 45-year-old local man on suspicion of murder."

Details of a cause of death have not been disclosed by police who before the arrest said it was important to establish how Ms Couchman ended up in the woods.

Inspector Becky Newman said yesterday: "Police investigating the discovery of human remains found in Redgeland Wood believe they have established the identity of the victim.

"From medical records, it is believed she was Victoria Couchman, 19 years of age, from an address in the local area."

Police said on Friday that around 90% of the skeleton had been recovered and that the bones were degraded.

It was originally thought the remains had been in the woods for up to ten years, but following further discoveries police said they think they had been there for around 18 months.

One key piece of information for police came from the disclosure that the victim's upper left leg had suffered a full break and had been pinned.

Local Inspector, Heather Keating, said: "This is a tragedy for the family and we will be working with them and the wider community to establish what happened to Victoria."

She added that high visibility police patrols will be in the area reassuring the local community and appealing for anyone with information to come forward.