INVESTIGATORS searching for the undiscovered body of Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett have found a gun near where he is believed to be buried.
They uncovered the Eibar double-barrelled shotgun – stored in its original case – hidden in a polythene sheet beneath a pile of rocks.
The rusting firearm was found on a bleak stretch of Saddleworth Moor, near the makeshift graves of three other victims of evil child killers Myra Hindley and Glasgow-born Ian Brady.
Justice campaigners who made the find believe it could have been used to kill Keith, whom the twisted pair snatched off the street when he was aged just 12 in 1964. His body has never been discovered.
Last night experts said the new discovery could prove the first major breakthrough in more than four years.
Ex-detective Mark Williams-Thomas said: “Someone doesn’t just walk up on to the moors and hide a gun there.
“We do know that Brady was linked with armed robbery and that he certainly was planning one.
“When you put that all together, you certainly get something that is suspicious.
“Could this be Brady’s gun? It could be very significant.”
Erica Gregory, 50, found the Spanish-made shotgun, which dates back to the 60s, while searching the haunting moor with pal Margaret Coop.
It was hidden in the same spot as discarded gun cartridges, lengths of twisted rope, polythene sheeting, a motorcycle gauntlet and a bone-handled hunting knife.
The latest finds come four years after the investigation team found a broken spade they believe was used to bury Keith in the area near Greenfield Brook, about a mile directly south east from where Moors murder victim Lesley Ann Downey’s body was found.
The location is also a mile from Dove Stone Reservoir, where Brady and Hindley parked up before heading on to the moor.
When linked to the site where the bodies of Lesley and two other Moors murder victims John Kilbride and Pauline Reade were found, the location of the shotgun discovery completes a cross, Erica said. Brady has previously given police a description of the area as the young boy’s final resting place.
Erica revealed she and Margaret, 55, had unearthed the gun from under an oak tree.
“Margaret just pulled the rocks up and noticed a black polythene sheet and saw a strap,” she said.
“At first we thought it was a handbag but we started digging and pulled out a bag and inside was the shotgun. It was such a shock.”
She added: “I believe this gun could have been used to kill Keith and he could be buried there, and there could be other children.
“It is very significant because it shows it is an area which the police have not looked at.”
Armed police and a forensics team arrived to take the gun away for tests after it was discovered on July 31.
The dramatic new twist comes more than 60 years after Brady and Hindley’s killing spree ended. They buried the bodies of John Kilbride, 12, Pauline Reade, 16, and 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey on the moor. The sick pair were finally caught by police after bludgeoning to death 17-year-old Edward Evans with an axe.
Brady is now 78 but Hindley died in 2002 aged 60. Greater Manchester Police were asked to comment but no statement was provided prior to deadline.
Keith’s mother Winnie Johnson fought a 48-year battle to find her son and give him a proper burial. But Brady ignored her pleas to tell her where on the moor his body lies and she died, aged 78, in 2012.
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