Murder investigation launched after human remains found in field near Hucknall

By Tom Surgay

24th May 2023 | Local News

A murder investigation has been launched following the discovery of human remains in a field in Sutton-in-Ashfield last month. Photo courtesy of Nottinghamshire Police.
A murder investigation has been launched following the discovery of human remains in a field in Sutton-in-Ashfield last month. Photo courtesy of Nottinghamshire Police.

A murder investigation has been launched following the discovery of human remains in a field in Sutton-in-Ashfield last month.

Specialist officers have been working alongside a team of scientists to determine who the person is and how they died.

On Wednesday, 26 April, construction work was being carried out on farmland in Coxmoor Road, which is just seven miles from Hucknall, when a member of the public came across some bones.

Police were called to the scene and a large cordon was put in place while work was carried out to exhume the rest of the remains.

Extensive work including a post-mortem examination has been conducted by a team of scientists including an anthropologist.

They can now reveal the remains are that of a male skeleton, with an estimated age of death of between 40 to 60 years old and an estimated height or stature of between 5' 41/4" and 5' 61/2".

Police originally believed the body could be that of Robin Barrows Spencer, a local man who was reported missing by his mother in June 2004.

He was 47 years old at the time he went missing and a murder investigation was launched in 2006 surrounding his disappearance.

His body has never been recovered but a number of arrests were made at the time. However, no one has ever been prosecuted.

Extensive DNA tests, including DNA from family members, have been conducted and the body is not Robin Barrows Spencer. His family have been kept well-informed throughout the investigation.

At this moment in time the body cannot be identified, and more work needs to be carried out on the remains.

This includes radiocarbon dating testing which will attempt to determine when the individual died. The results of which can take up to several months.

A team of detectives are now following a number of lines of inquiry.

This includes examining the Missing Person database, analysis of clothing recovered from the scene, further consultation with experts to assist in identifying the man, plus additional tests to find out how the person died.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin 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.

"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 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 also not the place where his murder occurred.

"However, we keep an open mind. We also know this is not a murder that has happened recently.

"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.

"Today we appeal for the public to come forward.

"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.

"We have set up a dedicated phone line and online portal direct to the incident room for anyone with information to contact us; or you can call Crimestoppers which is completely anonymous.

"We have already eliminated a number of people who are known to be missing.

"We are determined to use all our investigative skills to identify this man and find those responsible for his murder."

Superintendent for the County, Claire Rukas said: "There has been some rumour and speculation and I would like to take this opportunity to address this.

"There is nothing to indicate there are any other bodies buried at the site. This is a single grave with a single deceased person in it.

"We have carried out extensive work over the last three weeks at the site to ensure that no stone was left unturned.

"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.

"We would also like to thank the public for their patience. The cordon was lifted last week, and the road has been reopened.

"This is a rare and unusual case, and we hope the community will come forward and provide us with as much information as they can.

"As always, we will keep you updated as this complex investigation develops."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room by clicking here.

Alternatively, they are asked to call the police's incident room on 0800 096 0095.


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