Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 11:55 UK

Moving on after body parts find

When a woman's head was found hidden inside a plastic bag by children playing on a beach in Angus, it sparked a huge police investigation.

The Arbroath beach where the gruesome discovery was made has now has re-opened.

But what does the investigation mean for people in the town? The BBC's Huw Williams reports from Arbroath.


Minutes after the police tape was rolled away, and Seagate beach re-opened to the public, there were five or six family groups happily playing on the shingle and the sand.

Arbroath beach - family walking
One family returned to the beach once the cordon was taken away

One mum said her eight-year-old son had been fascinated by the police operation, and desperate to come and see it for himself.

But most of the others said their children were too young to understand what had been going on, and it was just too beautiful a day not to come to the beach.

So, on one level, a very normal scene in Arbroath's brilliant sunshine.

But the TV trucks and reporters' cars parked all along South Street, and the simple bunch of white tulips left on the grass, hinted at another way of looking at what was going on.

Just a couple of hours earlier, teams of Tayside Police officers had been out, scouring the full length of the beaches again. Every lump and bump of seaweed raked over and investigated.

People are coming to terms with this horrible, horrible discovery
Patricia Millar
Arbroath Community Council

Even though I knew the experts had done their job, as I walked along the pebbles I couldn't help looking round rather more thoroughly than usual at the debris washed up along the tide line.

A discarded rubber glove. Bits of plastic. The sorts of things you wouldn't normally look at twice.

The mums playing with their children were thinking the same.

"It's a bit scary. The thought of what got washed up. It's really scary", one said.

'Thinking twice'

Another told me "We used to come down here all the time when we were younger. My gran collects agates, so we were always down here. And the thought of us, when we were younger, finding anything like that is scary. Scary stuff."

But Bruce Gregory who's lived on South Street, overlooking the beach, for nearly 40 years said the grim discoveries wouldn't change the way he thinks about the area.

As a former lifeboat volunteer, and member of the Coastguard cliff rescue team, he's more used than most of us to dealing with the realities of life and death at sea.

"Doesn't bother me in the least, probably because of past experiences", he told me.

Policeman at Arbroath beach
The police investigation was sparked after the body parts find

"When you've picked people off the bottom of the cliffs, and things like that, it's never very nice. But you just get used to it."

"If it's found that it has been something that's been more-or-less dumped, and it's been somebody in the area, then you might start thinking twice about what's going on", he added.

But Patricia Millar, from the Arbroath community council, said local people were coping with the profound shock of body parts being found on their beach.

She said: "I feel there's a sense of community. People are coming to terms with this horrible, horrible discovery."

Was there any comfort from the fact that the victim doesn't seem to be from the area, I wondered.

"In some ways it's a comfort" she said. "But that's a minor concern. People feel very shocked that somebody's mother, somebody's daughter, somebody's wife, has been subjected to this."


SEE ALSO
Beach head had 'distinctive' scar
02 Apr 08 |  Tayside and Central
'It is like solving a jigsaw puzzle'
02 Apr 08 |  Tayside and Central
Children find human head on beach
01 Apr 08 |  Tayside and Central

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