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Fifty police officers involved in hunt for killer after brutal murder of dog walker, 83, in woodland near East Harling

PUBLISHED: 10:20 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:34 09 August 2017

East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

The hunt has intensified for the killer of an 83-year-old dog walker stabbed in the head and neck, with about 50 officers working on the case and residents urged to check their bins for the murder weapon.

Picture : ANTONY KELLY Picture : ANTONY KELLY

The victim, a married father-of-two who is from local area but who has not yet been named, was repeatedly stabbed in a frenzied attack as he walked his two dogs in woodland close to the Fiveways junction, near East Harling.

The man’s body was discovered by a member of public who called police at about 10.45am, on Saturday, August 5. The victim’s dogs were discovered unharmed nearby.

It is understood a murder inquiry was not launched until Monday due to police having to wait for results of a post-mortem examination, which revealed he had suffered multiple stab wounds to his neck and head.

Police, who say they are waiting for the coroner before they can release the man’s identity, said there still appears to be no motive - although it is understood nothing was stolen from the victim.

East Harling murder police press conference with chief superintendent Mike Fawcett and corporate communications manager Nicola Atter. Picture : ANTONY KELLY East Harling murder police press conference with chief superintendent Mike Fawcett and corporate communications manager Nicola Atter. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

They have urged people living within a five-mile radius from the scene to check their bins and gardens for a weapon or bloodied clothes.

People living and working in the area, or those driving through it, have also been asked to provide police with CCTV or dash-cam footage from about the time the attack took place, which might yet provide vital clues.

Norfolk’s county policing commander, Chief Superintendent Mike Fawcett - who revealed about 50 officers were working on the case - described the murder as “brutal” and “not normal” for Norfolk.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey also visited the scene.

East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Ch Supt Fawcett said: “We remain in the early stages of investigation and whilst carrying out extensive enquiries, we believe a member of the public could hold a vital clue.

“I would therefore like to appeal to locals, visitors or people who frequent the area to contact us if they think they might have important information.

“The victim is described as being white, of a slim build approximately 5ft 7in tall, with grey hair and glasses.

“He was wearing blue/grey trousers, a black t-shirt and brown walking boots. He was also with his two dogs, a nine-year-old Scarteen Harrier and a 13-year-old Trailhound cross.

“It is believed he travelled to the location in his red Skoda Fabia. If you noticed something out of the ordinary in the area between 9am and 11am it could help us build a bigger picture and identify a suspect.

“The residents in East Harling and other local villages know their community better than anyone else and it’s these people I really want to appeal to. Have you seen people or a vehicle which looks out of place?

“At the time it may have seemed insignificant but please contact my officers and let us decide if it’s relevant or not.”

Ch Supt Fawcett, who was speaking at a press conference held at Wymondham on Tuesday, August 8, said other forces might yet be asked for their assistance in the manhunt.

He said calls about the murder went into double figures on Monday. He called on the public to continue to give them information either via 101, quoting Operation Graduate, or by giving information at the scene where a mobile police unit has been set up.

As a result of standard police enquiries, some Breckland residents in the immediate vicinity will not have their bins collected over the coming days.

Ch Supt Fawcett said: “I would like to encourage people within a five-mile radius of The Street, which is off the A1066 and the B1111, to check their bins and gardens for any items that may have been discarded by the suspect.

“Investigators are also asking all residents and businesses within the same area that have CCTV systems to preserve any footage that relate to the hours between 6am until 9pm on Saturday, August 5. Similarly motorists who were travelling in the area on Saturday and have any dash-cam footage recorded these times are asked to save the footage and to contact the police. As this is an area where people go cycling and running, some people may have other video footage from mobile devices and we would ask that this is saved and contact made with the police so that it can be reviewed to see if it assists the investigation.”

A seal remains in place at the woodlands whilst specialist searches and officers continue with their enquiries.

• Information to police on 101, visit the mobile police station or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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