Fresh appeal on pensioner murder

By Ted JeoryDETECTIVES have appealed to the public for more help in finding the bogus callers responsible for the murder of a frail pensioner.Thelma Avis, 90, died a year ago on Sunday after having a cardiac arrest just hours after she had been preyed upon by two bogus callers.

By Ted Jeory

DETECTIVES have appealed to the public for more help in finding the bogus callers responsible for the murder of a frail pensioner.

Thelma Avis, 90, died a year ago on Sunday after having a cardiac arrest just hours after she had been preyed upon by two bogus callers.

The grandmother-of-four, from Colchester, had a heart condition and police launched a murder investigation because they believed the trauma of the incident triggered her death.

Now the detective leading the investigation has pledged to leave no stone unturned in finding her killers.

Detective Superintendent Peter Clarke, of Essex Police, said: “We owe it to the memory of Mrs Avis and her family to achieve a result.

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“The file on such a case is never closed and we are still actively engaged on the investigation.

“We are reviewing work on the inquiry to date and are also revisiting intelligence data in the hope of making the breakthrough we are committed to achieving.”

One of Mrs Avis' sons, Neil, said he hoped the police's fresh appeal would be successful.

“It's one of those crimes that you think will never happen to you, especially if you're elderly - but it goes on and that's sad. It's very difficult,” he added.

Mrs Avis was an independent-minded woman, who ran a Monkwick dancing group in the 1970s.

She had worked in a Colchester clothing factory during the Second World War, while her beloved husband, Henry, helped with the country's coastal defences.

The housebound widow had lived in her home in Barn Hall Avenue, Colchester, for 60 years and was careful about whom she let into her house.

But at about 5.30pm on July 4 last year Mrs Avis heard a persistent hammering at her front door and, worried that there was someone at her doorstep in need of help, went to see who was there.

She found a man who claimed to be a gas company official wanting to investigate a leak.

Mrs Avis was suspicious of the man and tried to follow him around the house using her walking frame. When he was not looking, she called her one of her sons, John, whom she knew was nearby.

However, the bogus caller had distracted her long enough to let an accomplice into the house and the pair escaped with more than £1,000 of her savings.

Speaking last year, John Avis, 60, said: “We tried to reassure her about things, but she wasn't feeling very well. I went to make her a cup of tea. She drank half of it, but then collapsed.”

Mrs Avis had suffered a cardiac arrest and she died shortly before 9.20pm, less than four hours after the bogus caller struck.

He was as white, aged between 20 and 30, of medium height, of slim to medium build, with short, straight, dark-brown hair, a sallow complexion, clean-shaven and with a Colchester accent.

Anyone with information should contact the Essex Police major investigation team on 01245 452207.

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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