THE THREE-year-old daughter of a high-flying executive was allegedly murdered at their £400,000 Hampshire home, as police arrest a 35-year-old woman.
The toddler, named locally as Bethan, is understood to have lived with her mum Claire in a converted bungalow in Fordingbridge, on the edge of Hampshire’s New Forest.
Her dad, thought to be Michael Colebourn, 37, is the chief executive officer of Trimline – a highly regarded interiors firm based in Southampton.
Emergency services were called to the house shortly before 7pm on Thursday evening, following a report of a “concern for welfare”.
The youngster was taken by air ambulance to Salisbury District Hospital in a life-threatening condition but died later that evening, police said.
Detectives launched an investigation and have arrested a 35-year-old woman from Fordingbridge on suspicion of murder.
It’s understood she was also treated at the scene.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he visited the house for drinks last Christmas, but said he had “not seen much of them since”.
The shocked neighbour said: “I cannot believe what has happened.
“Claire and Michael were nice people, and they had a lovely little girl called Bethan.
“We went there at Christmas for a few drinks, because they know our neighbour – I think they both own horses.
“They were very nice to us, but we don’t really know them very well.
“I was shocked when I saw the ambulances and police cars outside the house last night.”
A neighbour, who did not wish to give his name, said the youngster’s death was “sickening” news.
He said: “It’s a complete tragedy; we do not know what happened, there was absolutely no indication that anything was wrong, we didn’t know of any issues.
“It’s just thoroughly sad, our sympathies go to the family, it’s quite sickening.”
A dog trainer said he knew the girl’s mum Claire as he had trained her pet spaniel.
The man, who did not want to be named, said: “She did have a partner when I trained their dog, I can’t remember his name, but I’m not sure whether they are still together.
“I didn’t have many dealings with them but they were a pleasant family. Their little girl was just a baby at the time.
“I saw the mother, Claire, and the little girl out recently and they looked happy and I said hello.”
Another man, who did not wish to be named, said he would often see the girl playing in in a paddling pool in the front garden when he walked past.
He said: “The mother would say hello and I would see the little girl out playing in the summer.”
Mayor of Fordingbridge, Malcolm Connolly, described the tragedy as “truly awful” as he offered his condolences.
He said: “It is a tragedy of gigantic proportion, my heartfelt condolences are with everyone concerned.
“I would just like to say on behalf of the residents of Fordingbridge that we offer our sincerest condolences to those effected by this awful event.
“Things like this don’t happen here, this is a lovely, friendly small market village where everyone knows each other and we are all feeling the same sadness and loss.
“I never would have expected this to have happened here, it’s truly awful and my thoughts and prayers are with the little girl and her family.”
Mr Colebourn graduated from the University of Southampton with an accounting and finance degree in 2003 and joined Trimline in July 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The chartered accountant originally joined Trimline as its chief financial officer and has since been appointed CEO.
Trimline renovates “world class marine interiors” and its website describes the firm as the “longest established interior re-fitter in the industry with over 50 years experience”.
The website also says: “At Trimline our purpose is to create world class marine interiors using innovative approaches combined with traditional principles.
“Everything we do we deliver on time and on budget. Whether you are in need of a full turnkey refurbishment or ongoing maintenance of your fleet, Trimline gets it right every time.”
The company generated revenues of almost £40million in its latest financial year.
A receptionist at his company said she did not know when he would be returning to the office.
A Hampshire Police spokesman said: “We were called to an address in Whitsbury Road, Fordingbridge, following a report of a concern for welfare.
“Officers attended along with colleagues from South Central Ambulance Service.
“A three-year-old girl was taken to Salisbury District Hospital and was pronounced dead later in the evening.
“Police are making inquiries into the circumstances of the girl’s death.”
The spokesman added: “A 35-year-old woman from Fordingbridge has been arrested as part of our inquiries.”
Police today sealed off the upmarket £500,000 detached bungalow as forensic science experts combed it for clues.
A spokesman for the South Central Ambulance Service said that it had been called to the house at 6.45pm on Thursday and sent two ambulance crews, an air ambulance and an officer to the scene.
An ambulance spokesman said: “We found a young child with life-threatening injuries and an adult who was treated at the scene for minor injuries.”
Detectives were not believed to have been looking for anyone else in connection with the girl’s death.
A Home Office pathologist is due to carry out a post-mortem examination to establish the exact cause of her death and an inquest was expected to be opened and adjourned later by the Mid-Hampshire coroner Grahame Short.