Sutton-in-Ashfield: Murder hunt launched as body buried in field confirmed as male ‘trauma’ victim

The location in the field off Coxmoor Road where the remains were found (PA)
The location in the field off Coxmoor Road where the remains were found (PA)

Detectives investigating the discovery of human remains in a field have launched a murder inquiry and appealed for information about socks and a shoe found at the site.

Nottinghamshire Police said evidence gathered during a three-week search of the scene, near Sutton-in-Ashfield, suggested the victim was buried there in an attempt to prevent the discovery of his body.

A number of bones were found on April 26 by a member of the public after construction work on farmland in Coxmoor Road, prompting a police operation which saw the exhumation of further remains.

Extensive work and a post-mortem examination have been conducted by a team of scientists, including an anthropologist, suggesting the skeleton is that of a male who was aged 40-60 and between 5ft 4in and 5ft 6in tall.

DNA testing has ruled out a link with the disappearance and suspected murder of 47-year-old Robin Barrows Spencer, a local man who was reported missing by his mother in June 2004.

Officers are now awaiting the results of radiocarbon dating testing to determine when the individual died.

Appealing for information and confirming that two socks and a shoe were found at the burial site, Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “It is important to remember this is not just a collection of bones in a field.

“This is someone’s loved one whose family will have undoubtedly been waiting many years for answers.

“His family are at the forefront of our minds and that is why we have been meticulous in our decision-making by ensuring we were at the scene in Coxmoor Road for three weeks to ensure we can gather as much evidence as possible.

“It is imperative that we can provide his family with all the answers they need and that the work we do now can ensure those responsible for his death are brought to justice.

“This will obviously be distressing for the local community to hear, as at this moment in time, we cannot provide identification.”

Mr Griffin added: “What I can say is that we have a team of detectives working extremely hard alongside a team of scientists to gather as much detail as possible to help us identify the person.

“At this stage we believe the man was murdered due to the injuries sustained. This includes trauma to parts of (his) skeleton, which are undergoing further analysis.

“We also believe he was buried at this site so no one could find him. It is also possible that the burial site is not the place where his murder occurred.”

The murder is not one which happened recently, Mr Griffin said, adding: “We know this because it takes a number of years for the body to decompose to bone.

“The radiocarbon dating would help provide a scientific date range for date of death and could provide a minimum timeframe that the body has been buried.

“We have a team of dedicated detectives now working on this case and would really like to hear from members of the public.

“Any information you may have about who this person might be, or anything you may have heard, then we would ask you to get in touch. This murder may have happened some time ago, but times have changed and so have loyalties.”

Officers have also addressed “rumour and speculation” about the find, stressing that there is nothing to indicate any other bodies are buried at the site.

Superintendent Claire Rukas said: “This is a single grave with a single deceased person in it.

“We know the woods around Coxmoor Road are a popular walking spot. We know the discovery of human remains will be alarming, but the public have nothing to be afraid of and they are safe to use.”