Mother and toddler murdered at home

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The Independent Online

A murder inquiry was launched yesterday after a mother and her toddler son were killed in a quiet Derbyshire village.

Emergency services were called to the property in the village of Holbrook, near Belper, at about 11am after a neighbour raised the alarm. They discovered the dying toddler and the bodies of his mother and a man inside the house. The 23-month-old boy died after being airlifted to hospital. Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths. The woman's partner is thought to have attacked her and the child before killing himself. Early reports that they had been shot were later discounted by police.

Assistant Chief Constable Dee Collins said: "The bodies of a man and a woman were found in the house. An injured child was taken to the Royal Derby Hospital but died later. We have launched a murder inquiry but we are not looking for anyone else."

Allan Gilbert, who lives near the house, said a young mother and her baby had been living in the property for the past six months.

He said: "We knew absolutely nothing about what happened until the cavalry. The woman lived there with the baby. They hadn't been there long but would say hello. We didn't hear anything and we live only 10 yards away. It sounds like one of those domestic tragedies.

"I haven't ever spoken to her but she always seemed very pleasant. I couldn't believe it when I saw all the police turn up this morning. I've never seen anything like it. The village has been sealed off and there are police everywhere. You just don't expect it in a village like this."

Andrew West-Hunt, 52, the landlord of The Spotted Cow, said the woman was a regular visitor to the pub having moved to the area after living abroad as an ex-pat in France or Spain. He said: "She was intelligent and obviously educated. She said she had looked at a couple of places and then settled on one here."

His wife, Fiona West-Hunt, added: "All the police cars came around 11am to 11.30am; about three ambulances and a helicopter.

"Somebody was walking their dog past and all they saw was somebody bringing a child out of a house and into an ambulance. Another ambulance arrived and didn't go for about half an hour."

Post-mortem examinations are due to be carried out to determine the cause of the deaths.