A YORK-BASED police officer was quizzed after his DNA was found on the murder weapon believed to have been used to bludgeon a sub-postmaster’s wife to death.

PC Darren Thompson had to account for his movements on the day of Diana Garbutt’s death after he came into contact with an iron bar uncovered in a search of Melsonby, near Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Robin Garbutt denies murdering his wife on March 23 last year, having told police she was attacked by an intruder during a robbery at the village shop and post office which the couple ran.

Her DNA was found on the bar, along with an unknown individual which was later matched to the York-based officer, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Forensic scientist Sarah Gray, who swabbed the bar for DNA five months after its discovery, said PC Thompson could have either handled the weapon or inadvertently coughed or spat over it while talking.

She also described how, when tested, Robin Garbutt’s shoes, T-shirt, underpants and a left sock had no blood stains from the victim.

A small blood stain on his right sock and jeans were found to be his own.

Yesterday, PC Thompson told the court he remained with the iron it for about half an hour until a scenes of crime officer could take a photo, but did not recall whether he had picked it up.

He told the court he understood that by touching the item he ran the danger of leaving his own DNA or removing someone else’s.

The officer revealed he also had providde details of his whereabouts on March 23 to rule himself out of the investigation.

Yesterday it also emerged that on the evening of Mrs Garbutt’s death, Cleveland Police recovered a balaclava and gun from behind a club in Thornaby, Teesside.

• The trial continues.