Husband of woman found dead in post office is arrested

'Devastated' widower had told of coming face to face with armed raider
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The Independent Online

The husband of a postmistress who was found dead at her village store has been arrested in connection with her murder.

Robin Garbutt, 44, was being questioned by detectives in connection with the death of his wife, Diana.

Mrs Garbutt, 40, was found dead in the upstairs living quarters of Melsonby Post Office in North Yorkshire, last month.

North Yorkshire Police said a 44-year-old man was arrested yesterday and was being questioned by detectives.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw, senior investigating officer, said: "The tragic death of Diana Garbutt three weeks ago has had a significant impact on people living in Melsonby and Richmondshire as a whole. It has also captured the concern and sympathy of the wider community due to the high level of media coverage of this case.

"I would again like to offer my sincere gratitude for the overwhelming support and understanding local people have given the police throughout this very complex investigation."

The murder investigation started on 23 March after police responded to reports of a robbery at the post office and discovered Mrs Garbutt's body. Detectives said she had suffered serious head injuries.

Her husband raised the alarm after discovering her.

On the day after the murder, Mr Garbutt told police how he had opened the shop as normal at 4.30am, but four hours later had been confronted by an armed raider when he opened the post office part of the business. He told police the gunman had emerged from the living quarters and shouted "We've got your wife" and demanded the money from the safe before leaving with a "significant" amount of cash in a large holdall.

In a statement issued later through North Yorkshire Police, Mr Garbutt said he was devastated by his wife's murder. "The past week has been extremely difficult and traumatic for me. Di was my life and I am lost without her. I would like to express my gratitude for the support of my family, friends and the police. I now ask that the media respect my privacy," he said.

The couple's store was the only one in a village of 1,000 people and was central to the local community, which is a few miles north of Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales.

In the days after the killing, dozens of bunches of flowers were left at the scene along with many handwritten notes of support. Neighbours and friends recalled Mrs Garbutt as a happy and friendly woman. One card said: "Our world has been turned upside down. We will remember all the happy times we spent working together. God bless."

A church service in Mrs Garbutt's memory was also held in the village. The couple had run the shop for around seven years having moved to Melsonby from the York area around the time they married.

They were tempted to sell up after it was targeted by armed robbers in March last year, when two men, one holding what appeared to be a handgun, threatened staff and made off with stamps and a large amount of cash. The couple put the business on the market, but later changed their minds and decided not to sell.

Nobody has been arrested in connection with the first raid and the current police investigation has examined a possible link between the two incidents. Following her daughter's death, Mrs Garbutt's mother, Agnes Gaylor, made an emotional appeal for information.

She said the last few years had been the happiest of her daughter's life. "She was content, she loved her life. She didn't deserve to be taken like this. Nobody does. But she, of all people, did not deserve to be taken this way," she said.

The investigation into the murder had focused on cars seen coming into and out of the village in the early hours of Tuesday 23 March.

Officers carried out an early morning census of traffic a week after Mrs Garbutt was found.