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Body exhumed in care home inquiry

Police investigating seven deaths at a care home which closed amid allegations of poisoning are set to exhume the body of a pensioner.

Nellie Mary Pickford, 89, a former resident at Parkfields residential home in Somerset,  will be removed from Glastonbury Cemetery by officers.

Police are also investigating the deaths of six other elderly residents at the home, in the village of Butleigh.

The home's former managers, Rachel and Leigh Baker, were arrested on suspicion of administering a noxious substance following the death of 97-year-old Lucy Cox on New Year's Day.

Officers have also decided to exhume two other bodies in the "unprecedented" move.

Detective Superintendent Trevor Simpson said: "The purpose of the exhumation is to conduct a postmortem, looking for the cause of death and achieving samples for analysis and, hopefully, then within three days the family can conduct a private burial.

"It is very drastic and we have considered long and hard. We have consulted with the family and they've agreed. Experts have guided us in this direction and we have sought the permission of the coroner.

"It is a huge step to make, unprecedented in Avon and Somerset, but we feel that the only way to successfully and properly conduct our operation is to do this."

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) obtained a court order to immediately close Parkfields on March 16.

The CSCI said it experienced a "total lack of cooperation" by staff following inspections at the home.

Avon and Somerset Police

The Commission for Social Care Inspection

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