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Former soldier accused of murdering dog walker Peter Wrighton, 83, to have psychiatric tests

PUBLISHED: 14:24 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:08 12 September 2017

Peter Wrighton. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

Peter Wrighton. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

The case of a former soldier from Cringleford accused of the murder of 83-year-old dog-walker Peter Wrighton has been adjourned so he can be assessed by a psychiatrist before a plea is entered.

Police conduct anniversary checks near the scene of the murder of Peter Wrighton in East Harling, Norfolk.
Picture: Nick ButcherPolice conduct anniversary checks near the scene of the murder of Peter Wrighton in East Harling, Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher

The body of Mr Wrighton, a married father and grandfather from Banham, was discovered in woodland near East Harling on Saturday, August 5.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and head.

Alexander Palmer, 23, of Freesia Way, Cringleford, who served with the British Army between 2010 and 2015, was charged with murder and appeared at Norwich Crown Court this morning.

Palmer, who had a beard and wore a red T-shirt, appeared via videolink from HMP Belmarsh, and spoke only to confirm his name during the 11-minute hearing.

It was supposed to be a plea and trial preparation hearing but defence barrister Paul Raudnitz lodged an application to adjourn the hearing until November 17.

He said there was a “psychiatric” element to this case and an issue over fitness to plead. They were seeking a report which would take a few weeks.

The application was not opposed by prosecution barrister Stephen Spence.

Judge Stephen Holt said he was “very reluctant to adjourn any PTPH, particularly in a case such as this” but added there were “serious issues” which needed to be resolved so granted the adjournment.

The next hearing will be on November 17 although the venue has yet to be confirmed and could be the Old Bailey in London.

A trial date of February 12, pencilled in at the last hearing, remained in place.

But Judge Holt said it was not yet known whether that would be in Norwich or at the Old Bailey.

Mr Wrighton, a former BT worker, was described as a “a lovely, gentle husband, dad and grandfather” who loved walking his dogs, Gemma and Dylan.

A statement released by police on behalf of Mr Wrighton’s family following his death, paid tribute to his “kind nature” and his “love of walking his dogs and chatting with people to pass the time of day”.

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