‘No active lines of inquiry’ in cold case of missing farmer

Police have announced that they are no longer looking into a woman’s claims that she murdered a New Mills farmer nearly 40 years ago.

Janet Holt, 64, who used to work at Ballbeard Farm, New Mills, confessed in a book to shooting her business partner Fred Handford and burying his body, after visiting a psychologist due to recurring nightmares.

For years, she said she thought he had thrown himself down a mine shaft but now she believes that he “attacked and raped her”.

But a statement from Derbyshire Constabulary said that police were not following any active lines of inquiry into the disappearance of Mr Handford, who was 56-years-old when he went missing in March 1976.

It added: “When fresh information was received in November 2011, police, supported by forensic archaeologists, excavated land around Ballbeard Farm.

“Extensive searches were carried out in the surrounding area but no new evidence was found.”

The constabulary confirmed that Ms Holt had been arrested in connection with the inquiry but that as no evidence was found to connect her to Mr Handford’s disappearance she was released without charge in June 2012.

A police spokesman said: “Should any fresh information come to light it will be investigated.”

Mr Handford’s body has never been found.

Ms Holt has written an autobiography about her life on Ballbeard Farm, in which she alleges what she believes happened to Mr Handford.

In the 2010 book, The Stranger in My Life, she said: “After 34 years, I’ve finally discovered the truth. Now all I have to do is learn to live with it.”