Lancashire

Freckleton vicar and daughter held over newborn baby murder

Revd James Percival Image copyright Freckleton CofE Primary School
Image caption Reverend James Percival of Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton was arrested on Tuesday

A vicar and his daughter are being held on suspicion of murder after a baby's body was found at a Lancashire house.

Police made the discovery after reports of a woman giving birth to a stillborn baby boy in Freckleton on 25 November.

The 28-year-old, named locally as Ruth Percival, was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for treatment and later released.

She was arrested on Tuesday with her father, Reverend James Percival, 64, of Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton.

'Bit of a shock'

The pair have also been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

Police said they were no longer questioning them on suspicion of sexual offences.

A 65-year-old woman, said to be the vicar's wife Susan Percival, has also been arrested on conspiracy to conceal a birth.

A neighbour said: "It's all a bit of a shock. They are a quiet family. We only know them to say hello. I didn't even know the daughter was pregnant."

Image copyright Warren smith
Image caption Lancashire Constabulary said inquiries had led police to treat the baby's death as suspicious
Image copyright PA
Image caption Police officers have been conducting searches for evidence

It is understood police were granted an additional 30 hours to question the three.

A Lancashire Constabulary spokesman said inquiries had led police to treat the baby's death as suspicious.

He said a post-mortem examination had taken place, but had proved inconclusive.

Further tests to establish how the baby died will be carried out.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Reverend James Percival is a vicar at Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton

A spokesman for the Diocese of Blackburn said it was "offering pastoral support" to the church and the local community.

Reverend Terry Scholz, from Holy Trinity Church, said the "church family" of parishioners would now pull together.

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