Fresh attempt to solve 10 murders

By James HoreREWARDS running into thousands of pounds are being offered today in a fresh attempt to solve 10 murder cases.Detectives believe the killers can all still be brought to justice and have urged the public to come forward with the "vital information" that they believe can solve the murders.

By James Hore

REWARDS running into thousands of pounds are being offered today in a fresh attempt to solve 10 murder cases in Essex.

Detectives believe the killers can all still be brought to justice and have urged the public to come forward with the "vital information" that they believe can solve the murders.

The move, which is being jointly run with Crimestoppers, follows a review of all ongoing serious crime cases in Essex and "cold cases" that date back almost 30 years.


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Essex Police believe the new appeal, combined with advances in forensic technology, could mean that cases that were once thought to be unsolvable could still end in the killers being caught and convicted.

Among the cases for which a fresh award has been offered is the gruesome and bizarre killing of pensioner Ron Cousins, who was found stabbed and strangled in his Chelmsford home 10 years ago.

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The body of the devout Christian was sprawled on the floor, covered in paint and a page from his bible had been ripped out and stuffed into his mouth.

It is also hoped the case of Colchester grandmother Thelma Avis could be solved through the new initiative.

Mrs Avis was the victim of bogus callers who came to her home in Barn Hall Avenue in July 2003 and stole £1,000 from her.

Within four hours Mrs Avis had died from a heart attack and a murder inquiry was launched because the shock of the theft had triggered a cardiac arrest in the 90-year-old.

Three retired chief inspectors have been working through all the cases and if any significant leads come from the appeal, the force's 70-strong major investigation team could be put onto a fresh line of inquiry.

Detective Superintendent Simon Coxall, of Essex Police, heading the team reviewing the unsolved cases, said they would never be closed and warned the killers it was only a matter of time before they are caught.

"These officers will have worked on cases at more junior ranks when they first occurred and they have between them a lot of years of experience in investigating cases of this seriousness. They are invaluable assets to us," he added.

"All the cases are being reviewed for the possibility of further inquiries. This can be done by speaking to the witnesses again, perhaps there are fresh witnesses and the development of forensics has opened up all sorts of possible opportunities."

Det Supt Coxall said there may be members of the public with information about the cases, but who may not think the evidence they had was important, and he called for them to come forward as they could make the difference.

"There will be no let up on our part until the families get the peace they deserve from knowing what took place and why and we are asking the people of Essex to assist us like they always do," he added.

"Cases of this seriousness will never be put to rest and Essex Police will continue to do all that is possible to bring the offenders involved to justice and continue to make Essex a safe place where criminals will always have to look over their shoulder and await that knock on the door."

David Bright, chairman of Essex Crimestoppers, said anyone wanting to give information could remain anonymous.

He added: "What we are saying is there are these 10 unsolved cases and somebody out there must know something about one of the crimes.

"I would call the money available a 'tempter' and if money is the deciding factor, then that is fine. Also there is no harm in coming forward with information that turns out to not to be valuable, it is still helping the inquiries."

Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. They can remain anonymous and could receive a cash reward.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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