A FORMER village shop and post office where a postmistress was murdered is being offered for sale at auction.

Estate agents have been instructed by the family of Robin and Diana Garbutt to set a guide price of £130,000 for the property in Melsonby, near Richmond, where she was beaten to death with a metal bar by her husband in March 2010.

Garbutt cheerfully served 60 customers before alerting police to his 40-year-old wife's body, claiming armed robbers had attacked her before stealing money from the safe.

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The three-bedroom premises, which retains the retail space, shelving and store rooms from when the couple ran it, has remained empty since Garbutt was given a life sentence for what a judge called the "brutal, planned, cold-blooded murder" of his wife as she lay sleeping in bed.

Police said the murder had "plunged the village's close-knit community into fear".

North Yorkshire-based estate agents Hunters said the property would be auctioned at York Racecourse on July 30.

Details for the property show photos of the couple's ice cream freezer, display cabinets and an empty rotating rack and state: "A crime has taken place at this property. Information on request."

Hunters declined to comment about the house, but many estate agents say properties which have been the scene of murders have a stigmas attached to them for many years and are tougher to market.

County councillor Michael Heseltine, who has served Melsonby for 37 years, yesterday said it was a matter of great regret that the post office and shop were likely to become a purely residential property, but that the community needed to move on from the murder.

He said: “Post offices always do serve as a community hub, but unfortunately the tragic events in Melsonby forced the situation.

“There will be many people in Melsonby now who don’t even know there was a post office there.”

Cllr Heseltine said plans to create a community centre in the village, off Moor Road, had resurfaced and a meeting was due to be held over access to the site next week.

Landlady Sally Williamson of the Black Bull pub in Melsonby, who has taken on selling newspapers since the shop and post office closed after the murder, said the village needed another community hub.

She said: “Melsonby is quite a large village with about 1,200 residents, but only a proportion of them come to the pub, I don’t know where the rest go.”