Disbelief over Cantley body discovery

RESIDENTS of a village where a woman mysteriously disappeared have expressed disbelief that her body remained hidden for 16 years.

The remains of Christine Allen were discovered on farmland in Cantley last Thursday less than half a mile from her home on Marie Close. The former schoolteacher vanished after last being seen walking from her house on the morning of April 8, 1995.

Her death is not being treated as suspicious and police are working on the assumption that the body had been in the same place since Mrs Allen went missing.

The body parts were discovered after 11-year-old Billy Wright stumbled on a jawbone while playing football with his father, Simon, in the garden of their home at Railway Cottages. Police officers called to the scene found further remains next to the cottages and railway line.

However, villagers voiced dismay that the body could have been undetected so close to where the 59- year-old lived despite an extensive police search of the area.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “There is a lot of shock – people cannot fathom how the body could have been undiscovered for so many years.

“Police undertook an extensive search at the time and even had divers in the river and yet the body would seem to have been just hundreds of yards from her home. I didn’t know Mrs Allen well, she kept herself to herself. It must be very upsetting for her husband but perhaps he can have some closure.

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“It is strange that the body could have been there all this time without anyone spotting it. Perhaps we will never know what happened.”

Mrs Allen was 59 at the time of her disappearance and was reported missing by her husband, Melvyn, later that day.

A neighbour had found the couple’s dog loose in the village at 9am, but did not find Mrs Allen at home when returning the pet.

Police carried out door-to-door investigations searched nearby dykes and marshes and carried out a helicopter search of a wide area of The Broads between Brundall and Burgh Castle without success.

Drinkers at the Cantley Cock said the incident had been the talk of the village and expressed surprise it had taken so long to find the body.

Landlord Mike Enright said: “It is strange the body could have been there for so many years right next to some houses and the railway line. I would have thought it would have been discovered much earlier. Things like this don’t happen in Cantley and it is certainly a talking point.”

Retired engineer Armin Hess, 68, said: “It is bewildering that the body could have laid there all that time without being found.

“Words fail me, the police must have carried out extensive searches at the time and I cannot believe they did not find it then. I knew of her, though not personally; it must be very upsetting for the family.”

Reedcutters pub co-owner Sybina Hirschle said: “I didn’t live in the village when this lady went missing and was not aware of the case previously. I don’t know her husband either, but a lot of people in the pub have been discussing it. It is odd that the body could have been there all this time.”

The inquest into the death of Mrs Allen opened on Wednesday at Great Yarmouth Coroner’s Court. Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said there were no suspicious circumstances and Mrs Allen had been diagnosed with a mental health condition in 1982 that may have been a factor in her death.

He said further investigations into the circumstances of her death were taking place and he adjourned the inquest to a date to be fixed.