Postmistress died from head injuries

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The husband of a post office owner who was murdered in her shop was confronted by a masked man brandishing a gun, who told him "We've got your wife," before demanding cash, police said.

North Yorkshire Police said Diane Garbutt, 40, was found dead in the upstairs living quarters of the village store in Melsonby, near Richmond, at about 8.30am on Tuesday. Yesterday detectives revealed that Mrs Garbutt had died from severe head injuries but could only confirm she had not been shot.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw said Mrs Garbutt's husband, Robin, had been working downstairs in the shop when he was confronted by the robber entering from the living quarters. After threatening Mr Garbutt, he left with a "substantial" amount of money in a black bag, carrying a gun.

Det Supt Raw said paramedics were called by Mr Garbutt, 44, who found his wife upstairs. He added that Mr Garbutt had opened the shop part of his business as normal at 4.30am, leaving his wife upstairs. He was disturbed by the raider just after he opened the post office counter at 8.30am. The armed man came into the shop from the living quarters and threatened Mr Garbutt.

Neighbours said they had noticed nothing unusual in the village until the ambulance and police arrived. Police said the store was targeted by armed robbers in March last year, when two men, one armed with what appeared to be a handgun, threatened staff and made off with stamps and cash. No arrests were made after that incident.