Quiet community shocked by killing

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Neighbours have spoken of their shock after a man was arrested on suspicion of murdering his mother in South Ribble.

Police were called to Riverside in Bamber Bridge on Sunday after the body of a 51-year-old woman, named locally as Bernadette Gallagher, was discovered at a bungalow there.

A 32-year-old man, understood to be her son Kieran Gallagher, was being questioned by detectives. Police said Ms Gallagher had suffered significant multiple injuries.

Mr Gallagher lived on the same street as his mother until October last year, when he moved to Manchester city centre in a house swap.

Mark Renaud, 51, who moved into Mr Gallagher’s old home in Riverside, said he was shocked to learn of his arrest.

He said: “When I first met him, he seemed very nice, well brought up and well-spoken and inoffensive enough. He originally lived in this house with his mother, until she moved round the corner and left him here.

“We did a house swap because he said he was desperate to move to Manchester, because he wanted to be a musician, a guitarist.

“It became clear he was not a happy lad, and his relationship with his mother was a little odd.

“She was a bit of a mystery. He said he was going to move to Manchester to develop some social skills and get a job.”

Neighbours said Ms Gallagher also had two daughters, though they believed the girls no longer lived with her.

They added police had been called to her semi-detached bungalow a few months ago when a neighbour with mental health problems attacked her.

Terry Burns, 41, a local taxi driver, said he used to take Ms Gallagher and her daughter to a nursery in Higher Walton.

He said: “She was a nice enough lady, pleasant enough.

“I used to see her going in and out regularly.”

A white police tent was placed in the garden outside Ms Gallagher’s front door and two crime scene investigation (CSI) vans were parked nearby.

Residents of the cul-de-sac, many of whom are elderly, said they had seen forensic officers in white suits going into the house and others searching the garden at night with torches.

Neighbour Jonathan Finch, 28, said: “I was watching the golf just before midnight, when an ambulance and three or four police cars arrived on the street.

“The CSI people came about 2am and there have been policemen there ever since.”

A Lancashire police spokesman said detectives were awaiting the result of a post-mortem.

It is understood Ms Gallagher may have been stabbed during the incident on Sunday.

A force spokesman said: “We were called at around 11.40pm on Sunday night. On arrival, we found the body of a 51-year-old woman with significant injuries.”