43-year-old Andrew Colin Reade has admitted hiding the body of his dead girlfriend in a cupboard inside his home for over a year.
Not only did he have a dead body in his house, but he went on about life as normal — even inviting people over from time-to-time.
Afterwards, his neighbours on Toronto Street, a quiet Bolton cul-de-sac, paid tribute to Victoria, 44, and told of their horror that Reade had hidden his dark secret for so long.
They recall ‘a strange smell’ but said Reade insisted Victoria had left to stay with her mum. And he even invited them round for tea in his one-bedroom flat as her body decomposed in the closet, they claim.
But Victoria, whose death has left relatives heartbroken, had in fact not been by anyone since October 2015.
Her family filed a missing persons report and Greater Manchester Police officers found her body during a raid on January 16 this year.
Bolton Crown Court heard that police are still investigating the cause of her death.
Nick Ross, defending Reade, said: “This is a very unusual case, a very difficult and sensitive case and a very serious case.”
He said there had been a post mortem but that police were still analysing toxicology results and making further investigations.
Judge Timothy Stead said: “The length of time for which this body appears to have rested in an airing cupboard will have made the pathological tests more difficult.”
The court heard a psychiatrist would see Reade, who will await sentence on remand at Forest Bank Prison.
The defendant, who wore tracksuit trousers and a blue anorak, spoke only to enter guilty pleas to two charges.
The first was intending to prevent the lawful and decent burial of Victoria Cherry and concealing her body between October 1 2015 and January 16 2017.
And he admitted intending to pervert the course of justice by giving misleading and inaccurate information about the whereabouts of Victoria Cherry to police officers, pharmacists, and family members.
Reade, who was warned to expect a ‘custodial sentence of some length’, was remanded in custody until April 13.
Neighbours have told of their grief, shock – and disbelief that Reade managed to keep Victoria’s body hidden for so long.
After the hearing, the M.E.N spoke to friends of the couple, who described Victoria as a ‘quiet and lovely’ mum and grandmother.
Gary Sleeman, 37, said the case had shocked the community, adding: “Vicky was so lovely, she had so much time for everyone and made you feel better about yourself.
He said he had spent many hours at the house before the death – and had even stayed there as Reade’s friend since her disappearance.
He added: “He said she had left him. I’d sleep on their couch regularly – while Vicky was there and afterwards.
“I’ve slept right near the cupboard where she was. I can’t explain it, there are so many feelings going on at once.
“I feel shock and I feel tragedy for Vicky.”
Glen Kerwin, 54, lived next door to Reade for three years.
He said: “It’s sad – Vicky was a nice girl, really pleasant to get on with.
“Dodgy smells started coming through but Andy explained it away. He told us it was from an older occupant that used to live there before him.
“He also dragged an old carpet into the hall to mask it and had air freshener.
“It’s shocking that he kept her body in there so long. He told me she had up and left.”
Glen, who would often watch fooball at Reade’s home, said: “We had no reason to doubt him. He said he’d gone back to her mum’s. He kept up a good front.
“How did he manage to keep it under wraps for so long?”