A man is being questioned by murder squad detectives after two elderly women were found dead in their homes.

The 43-year-old from Southport, Merseyside, was arrested after what police suspect was a "burglary gone wrong" led to the first death in Lonsdale Road, Southport.

The first victim has been named locally as widow Margaret Biddolph, who was described as "jolly and independent".

Further inquiries led officers to an address in nearby Birch Street, Southport, where they discovered the body of a second elderly woman, named by neighbours as Annie Leyland.

Detective Chief Inspector John Roberts said: "This is a tragic incident that has resulted in the death of an elderly woman. While we are at the early stages of the murder inquiry, we are investigating a possible connection with a burglar."

A neighbour described Mrs Biddolph as a "quiet, lovely woman" who she would often see tending her garden.

Marianne Lott, who lives opposite Mrs Biddolph's home, said: "She was very jolly and independent. She was in her 80s but that didn't stop her getting taxis out and about to get groceries or do some shopping."

Mrs Lott said her neighbour had been a widow for 40 years and had three grown-up children. Police are trying to trace next of kin.

The widow is believed to have lived in Lonsdale Road for 36 years. A neighbour of Annie Leyland said: "She was the sort of person who kept herself to herself."

Post-mortem examinations are due to be carried out.