Murder scene village store sells for £130,000

MURDER VICTIM: Diana Garbutt.

MURDER SCENE: Police tape and flowers outside Melsonby post office shortly after the body of sub-postmistress was found inside.

FOUND GUILTY: Convicted killer Robin Garbutt.

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

VILLAGERS hope the new owners of a shop which was the scene of a brutal murder will reopen the business.

The former village store and post office in Melsonby, North Yorkshire - once on the market for £450,000 - has been sold for £130,000 to an anonymous bidder.

The property, which includes a three-bedroom flat, fetched the guide price at a public auction at York Racecourse this week.

Sub-postmistress Diana Garbutt, 40, was found dead in the living quarters of the building in March 2010.

Police and paramedics initially responded to reports of an armed robbery.

In the days after the alleged raid, detectives appealed for help to catch a man wearing a balaclava and armed with a gun.

However, her husband Robin was arrested on suspicion of murder three weeks later and convicted of the killing after a trial.

Hunters Estate Agents in York said the property was auctioned at the instruction of family solicitors.

A spokeswoman said she was unable to reveal the buyer, adding that she was unsure what their plans were for the property.

"It's up to the buyer what they want to do," she said.

"If they want to turn it back into a shop then they can. If they want to keep it just as a house I would imagine they would need planning permission."

The property was advertised on the estate agency website before the auction.

The details stated: “A crime has taken place at this property. Information on request.”

The village has been without a shop since the murder, with newspapers being sold at the village pub, the Black Bull, and a mobile post office visiting twice a week.

Richmondshire district councillor for Melsonby, Jimmy Wilson-Petch, said he did not know who had bought the property, however he added: "We have been deprived of a store for a number of years and we are all hoping we get a shop back as soon as possible."

The Garbutts moved into the property in 2003. The court heard during the trial that they couple put it up for sale in 2006 for £450,000, however they later decided to stay.

Robin Garbutt told the jury that the business had an annual turnover of around £200,000.

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