A 72-year-old man has appeared before Blackburn magistrates charged with murdering a mother-of-two.

Alan James Fare, of Victory Close, Nelson, is charged with the murder of his 58-year-old neighbour Mandy Houghton.

Fare was sent in custody to Preston Crown Court where he will appear before a judge on Monday.

A murder inquiry was launched after Ms Houghton was found unresponsive with head injuries in her home, where she lived alone, at 11am on Wednesday.

A subsequent Home Office post mortem examination showed she died as a result of head injuries.

On Thursday Ms Houghton’s family paid tribute to the “much-loved mum, sister and grandma.”

They said: “She was a happy soul that wouldn’t hurt a fly. She has been taken from us too soon and is going to be deeply missed.”

Det Ch Insp Gareth Willis, from the force’s major investigation team, said: “Our thoughts remain with Ms Houghton’s family and friends at this awful time. They continue to be supported by specially-trained officers.

“A man has now been charged but our investigation is very much ongoing and we continue to ask anybody with information about her death to get in touch.”

Anybody with information is asked to contact us on 101, quoting log number 411 of June 3.