'Natasha wouldn't take her own life'

The grandfather of tragic teenager Natasha Coombs last night spoke of the family's “absolute nightmare” since her disappearance and dismissed suggestions that she had committed suicide.

The grandfather of tragic teenager Natasha Coombs last night spoke of the family's “absolute nightmare” since her disappearance and dismissed suggestions that she had committed suicide.

Police are today expected to confirm that a woman's body found in thick undergrowth on Friday night near to railway lines at Manningtree Station in Essex was Natasha, who has been missing for two weeks.

It is believed Natasha's black furry handbag and distinctive pink mobile phone were found at the scene.

A post-mortem examination suggested that the woman had been hit by a train.

Last night Natasha's grandfather Peter Clackett, 62, said the family had been hurt by reports that she may have killed herself.

Speaking from his home in Harlow, Essex, he said: “It's lies. They said she had tried to commit suicide before, it's all lies, lies lies.

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“It was a tragic, tragic accident. The police will tell you the same, it was an accident.”

Mr Clackett and his 60-year-old wife Wendy put up their life savings as a reward for information about their granddaughter's whereabouts.

In an emotional appeal at a press conference earlier this week he said: “She was our only grandchild and she was a fantastic girl. She means the world to us.

“Apparently she'd had an up and down with her boyfriend but what 17-year-old girl hasn't?

“She was a vivacious, fantastic girl. This has been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.”

Natasha, the daughter of a Norwich Union manager, and of Dovercourt, Essex, vanished after boarding a late-night train from Ipswich after a meal with friends on July 27.

Speculation that she may have committed suicide surfaced when it emerged she had separated from her boyfriend, Joshua Brennan, two weeks before her disappearance.

Just hours before the body was found, Mr Brennan, 18, made an emotional appeal for Natasha to come home saying he wanted to marry her and start a family.

Yesterday, his mother, Lynn, said: “He's absolutely tortured by what's happened. He's been up all night. He's been torn apart, he's so upset.”

The 18-year-old A-level student spent a tearful 30 minute phone call with Natasha at 3.30am the morning she vanished.

He said they had decided to split up because of pressure from their parents but they were getting back together and were due to go on holiday in September.

In a police press conference, just hours before Natasha's body was found, he said: “We wanted to take it into a more adult relationship, moving up, growing from puppy love into a proper relationship.

“As far as I was concerned I was going to be with her for the rest of my life.”

Family friend Julie Beasley urged Natasha's friends to leave floral tributes outside Natasha's home so her heartbroken parents Joanne, 40, and Gary, 48, could draw comfort from them.

Describing Natasha, she said: “Such a beautiful girl, a style icon, a good daughter, granddaughter, niece, friend.

“Such a waste of life but now at rest.”

Tributes have been pouring onto a webpage on social networking website Bebo, which was set up by friends to spread news of the missing teenager.

One wellwisher, called Ann H, said: “How very sad that someone so young, beautiful and talented should choose to do something so dramatic and tragic - my thoughts are with Joshua and her parents who are going through guilt and hell.

One of the last things Natasha wrote on the site herself before her disappearance said: “I want a long, happy, healthy life with kids and grandkids and a handsome husband.”

The two week search for Natasha was called off on Friday after a freight train driver spotted the body a mile away from Manningtree station.

Police said they expect to formally identify the teenager today, and that no murder investigation was being launched as there was no evidence of any criminal act.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “There is no suspicion any criminal act has taken place so it is now a matter for the coroner.”

Peter Meades, public affairs manager for One Railway, said that the train operators could not make a comment until the results of the inquest were known.

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