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A week on from gruesome discovery of 83-year-old dog walker’s body and police are still looking for answers

PUBLISHED: 08:40 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:17 12 August 2017

Peter Wrighton. Photo: Norfolk Police/PA Wire

Peter Wrighton. Photo: Norfolk Police/PA Wire

It is a week on from the gruesome discovery of the body of 83-year-old dog walker Peter Wrighton in woodland near to East Harling.

Peter Wrighton, who has been named as the 83-year-old man who was stabbed to death while walking his two dogs in East Harling, Norfolk. Picture Norfolk Constabualry. Peter Wrighton, who has been named as the 83-year-old man who was stabbed to death while walking his two dogs in East Harling, Norfolk. Picture Norfolk Constabualry.

And as the manhunt for the killer of the kind and gentle husband, father and grandfather continues, crime correspondent PETER WALSH takes a look back at a week which has truly shocked Norfolk.

For many people living in and around the quiet rural village of East Harling, life will never be the same.

Certainly for the heartbroken family of Peter Wrighton, from nearby Banham, life sadly can never return to normal following a brutal, violent and frenzied attack while he walked his two dogs, Dylan and Gemma. But the shock and fear which hangs so heavily now above the devastated communities of Banham, East Harling and surrounding areas was nowhere in sight a week ago.

Saturday, August 5 started out as a normal day, including for Mr Wrighton who would be heading to East Harling to walk his dogs in the expansive woodland which draws in pet-owners from across the county and beyond such is its popularity as a dog-walking destination.

Police are still searching for the break through in the East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Police are still searching for the break through in the East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Tragically, it was a trip from which Mr Wrighton was to never return from.

The former BT worker, who lived with his wife Ann in the picturesque village of Banham, had made the short drive from his home to the woods in his red Skoda Fabia.

On the way he had stopped off at Kenninghall Post Office, where he was picked up on CCTV buying a few items, before continuing on his journey.

Those final images of Mr Wrighton while he was alive were taken between 10.08am and 10.12am.

Aerial view of murder scene, near East Harling. PIC: Supplied by Norfolk police. Aerial view of murder scene, near East Harling. PIC: Supplied by Norfolk police.

At 10.46am Mr Wrighton’s body was discovered by a member of the public with his two dogs found, unharmed, nearby.

Police were called following the find which prompted a rapid response.

People who were working in East Harling later recalled how they thought there had been a crash after several police cars were seen and heard “racing” through the village in the direction of the Fiveways junction.

Police attended the scene and forensic analysis was carried out but at this stage the “sudden death” was being treated as “unexplained” with an animal attack considered as one of the possible causes.

Police press conference for the East Harling murder. Left to right, chief superintendent Mike Fawcett, detective superintendent Andy Smith and corporate communications manager Nicola Atter. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Police press conference for the East Harling murder. Left to right, chief superintendent Mike Fawcett, detective superintendent Andy Smith and corporate communications manager Nicola Atter. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

There was still police activity at the scene on Sunday, August 6 but nothing to suggest the horrific nature of what had happened to Mr Wrighton.

It was not until after an extensive Home Office post-mortem examination, which was carried out on August 6, that police were able to reveal the victim had been subjected to a serious assault.

And so it was that, in the early hours of Monday, August, 7, following the results of the post-mortem examination, that police officially launched a murder probe.

However, the identity of the victim had not been made public at this point with those waking up in and around East Harling on Monday morning only aware that police were investigating the murder of a man.

The news of course caused alarm among those living in the nearby village of East Harling who were concerned not only that someone had been killed but that his killer was on the loose.

That fear however was to be heightened further following a press conference on Monday afternoon at police headquarters in Wymondham during which it emerged that an 83-year-old dog walker, a local man, had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and head.

The gruesome details sent shockwaves reverberating around the community who had never heard anything of its like before.

Over the coming days the area, and surrounding villages, were flooded with police officers and local and national media all looking for answers about what had happened.

There were further press conferences on Tuesday, August 8, when police urged people to check their gardens and bins for a possible weapon and send in CCTV or dash-cam footage, which they hoped might hold vital clues.

Mr Wrighton was not formally identified to the public until Wednesday, August 9 - unusually a day after a description of the victim had been issued by police who said they were not then in a position to identify him.

The past week has raised a number questions, generated many theories but ultimately has yet to provide any answers.

And that will be the biggest concern for everyone.

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