Nellie Geraghty: Reward offered for return of handbag

Frank and Nellie Geraghty
Image caption Nellie Geraghty's handbag contained the ashes of her late husband Frank

A member of the public is offering a £5,000 reward for details which lead to the recovery of a woman's handbag which she died trying to protect.

Nellie Geraghty, 79, was found clutching the strap of the bag, which had contained her late husband Frank's ashes, in Oldham on 24 November.

She suffered serious injuries and died in hospital the following day. The bag and the ashes have never been found.

Police are also appealing for several crucial witnesses to come forward.

Two boys, aged 14 and 17, and a 37-year-old man have been arrested on suspicion of murder and released on police bail.

'Appalling tragedy'

Mrs Geraghty was discovered by members of the public in an alleyway between Elizabeth Grove to Kershaw Street shortly before 12:00 GMT. She had been seen in Elizabeth Grove walking towards the alley at about 11:50 GMT.

She had carried her husband's ashes with her every day for the past 17 years and planned to have her ashes scattered with his.

Det Ch Insp Joanne Rawlinson, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "The man who has kindly agreed to offer a reward was, like many members of the public, shocked by this appalling tragedy.

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Media captionDet Ch Insp Joanne Rawlinson urged anyone with information to contact police

"He fully understands that the family are desperate for those ashes to be returned, and their recovery would also uncover vital lines of inquiry for our investigation.

"We believe there are people out there who have considered giving information about the handbag but have been hesitant for whatever reason.

"We would like to reassure them that we have a team of highly trained detectives who they can speak to and their information will be treated in the strictest of confidence."

Police said they wanted to speak to witnesses in the area who may have seen Mrs Geraghty's attacker shortly before or after he came across her.

Officers want to speak to two youths seen walking away from Elizabeth Grove onto The Avenue; a white man with a young child in a garden on Victoria Street between 11:50 and 11:55 GMT; and two youths crossing Rochdale Road and walking along a dirt track alongside the Star pub at 11:50 GMT.

Ms Rawlinson said: "If you happen to be any of the witnesses described, we need to speak to you. You may not have thought that you could have given information to help this investigation, but what you saw may have been very significant."

Along with the ashes, several other items were in Mrs Geraghty's handbag. They included a green plastic spiral cord, a pink wallet, a brown wallet, a black purse and cheque book, photographs, and a bus pass.

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