‘Why did it take so long for the police to find my son?’

Anthony Stubb's mum Denise Machin
Anthony Stubb's mum Denise Machin

The grieving mother of a Leyland teenager found hanged in woodland near Worden Park, seven weeks after he went missing, is now asking why the search to find him took so long.

Denise Machin’s 16-year-old son Anthony Stubbs disappeared on November 25 last year, and his body was eventually found on January 14, with police at the time saying it was understood he had been there for some time.

Now, almost six months after she last saw her beloved child, Denise, of Southbrook Road, says she feels a sense of ‘closure’ after a coroner gave a verdict of suicide at an inquest, but still has questions about why it took police 51 days to find him.

“I can’t believe it took seven weeks,” she said.

“I told the police to check Worden Park because he’d taken tablets before, and I thought he might have done it again.

“That was the last place we were all together when Anthony was really happy, and they did check the park, but they didn’t look in the woodlands.

“Family members were also out looking for him, but we didn’t check there ourselves because the police had already covered Worden Park with the dogs.

“One relative was near Parkgate Drive, close to where he was found, but they had car trouble and had to go home.

“If that hadn’t have happened, we would have found him sooner. I have asked the police why it took so long, and they said they had to start in target areas.

“They started at Anthony’s girlfriend’s house on Leyland Lane, where he was living, and worked their way out, but I still don’t understand why it took seven weeks.”

Anthony’s family did not wish to attend an inquest and the coroner concluded the inquest without calling any witnesses at the end of last month.

Deputy coroner Simon Jones gave the verdict that ‘Anthony Stubbs took his own life’.

Denise, who has two younger children, said: “They said there was no drugs or alcohol in his system, which I was glad about, and said he didn’t suffer.

“That has given me some closure.”

Answering Denise’s questions about the search, a Lancashire police spokesman said: “Missing from home enquiries involve extensive searches, a large number of officers including mounted officers and dogs, thorough examination of CCTV footage, house to house enquiries and work with the family and friends of the person.

“Searches are carried out area by area stemming from the last sighting and followed by other intelligence and information provided during the investigation.

“Police will first conduct a visual search to cover as much of an area as possible.

“Where there is nothing apparent, a more intensive line search is then carried out where officers walk through every inch of the area, which obviously takes much longer to carry out.

“It was during this second stage that Anthony was sadly found in a dense area of woodland away from footpaths and obscured from view by foliage.”

- To read more from Anthony’s mum, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.