Couple tell of horror at river death discovery
5:30am Friday 18th April 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
WEDDING guest Helen Lesley Jones has been named as the woman found dead in a Glouces-tershire river at the weekend.
Mrs Jones, 49, who lived at Bullfinch Close, Dorcan, Swindon, is believed to have been at a wedding in The Swan at Bibury, a Cotswolds beauty spot, just hours before her body was found.
Village residents Phil and Elaine Clough made the grim discovery in the River Coln in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Mr Clough, of Arlington Row, was walking the family dog just after 7am when he spotted what appeared to be a shop mannequin in the water. When he realised what it was he sprinted back to the house to raise the alarm.
Mrs Clough, 59, said: “Phil went out to walk the dog and came racing back five or 10 minutes later saying he had found a body. “I grabbed the phone to ring the police and ran after him.
“Things just escalated from there. It was a real shock to the system to find something like this happen in little Bibury.”
The dead woman was dressed in wedding attire, and some of her personal belongings were found on the bank of the river.
“There are a lot of weddings that go on around all the different hotels, and at first Phil thought it was a mannequin when he saw where she was,” said Elaine.
“I thought the same thing until I saw her handbag lying on the riverbank. “My reaction when I realised was complete and utter shock. I keep dwelling on it.
“She was found about 300 yards from the Swan Hotel, so walking distance. They also found her car because there was a key fob in the handbag, so they went around checking all the cars in the area.”
Mr Clough, 57, spent 24 years in the Navy and now works in security.
“With wedding parties you never know if someone has thrown something in the river as a prank, but when I got nearer there was no doubt,” he said.
“I didn’t have a phone on me and being a Sunday morning there was no one around. I went to get the wife and I waded in to the water to check her pulse.
“After the police turned up it started to get busy with people on bikes coming and going, and all before 8am. If a couple of kids had been heading down to the trout farm by there it would have been horrific for them.
“We did ask if there was anything we could have done but the police said we did everything we could. That was a relief because you always have those ‘what ifs’ going through your mind.
“Everybody has their own ways of dealing with these things, but you can’t let it bring you down. There is nothing we could have done for her.”
Mrs Clough said: “It is normally me walking the dog but it was Phil’s day off so he decided to do it.” “It was probably the same route I would have taken, but I am certainly glad it was not me that day.
“There is a little bridge which he crossed and noticed it from there.”
A spokesman for Gloucester-shire Police said: “We were called to the scene at 7.20am on Sunday by the person who found the body. We found a woman from the Swindon area who was 49-year-old in shallow water in the River Coln.
“The woman’s partner, who was her next of kin, and the coroner, have been informed.
“The death was originally being treated as unexplained but is now being treated as non-suspicious.
“The woman had been staying in a pub in the area.”
A spokesman at the Swan Hotel has confirmed Helen Jones had been staying at the hotel as a guest at the time.
“Our thoughts go out to her friends and family at this difficult time,” said the spokesman.