Man quizzed after gruesome body find

By Sharon AsplinDETECTIVES were questioning a man last night after the grim discovery of a woman's body near a remote Essex village was linked to a gruesome find of scalp and hair tissue in Suffolk.

By Sharon Asplin

DETECTIVES were questioning a man last night after the grim discovery of a woman's body near a remote Essex village was linked to a gruesome find of scalp and hair tissue in Suffolk.

The body was found at 11.30pm on Saturday, hidden in a car parked near a fishing lake at a wedding and conference centre on the outskirts of Roxwell, near Chelmsford.

Essex and Suffolk police said the woman's death was being treated as suspicious and was connected to the discovery of congealed blood, together with what is thought to be hair and scalp tissue, on a road 90 miles away in Beccles, near Lowestoft, on Friday.

The link was made after a 41-year-old man voluntarily attended Barking Police Station in east London at 6.45pm on Saturday, where he was arrested. He was still in custody last night and being questioned by detectives.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: "Subsequently, police attended an area within the grounds of Newland Hall at Roxwell, where the body of a woman was found in a car.

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"No formal identification of the body has taken place and a post-mortem by a Home Office pathologist is being arranged.

"However, police believe the body is that of a 35-year-old female from London whose purse was found by the A146 at Beccles on Friday."

An Essex Police spokesman added: "The discovery is being linked to an incident being investigated by Suffolk Police. The scene is being preserved pending a full forensic search by officers from Suffolk Police. The matter is being treated as suspicious."

Police said they would not be naming the woman until all her family had been informed of her death.

Newland Hall Country Estate consists of a large, picturesque grade II-listed Tudor manor house with a moat and more than 100 acres of grass and woodland. There are a number of public footpaths and bridleways running across it.

It caters for conferences, parties, wedding ceremonies and receptions, and has four lakes for coarse fishing and an equestrian centre.

Its owner, Simon Burton, was turning members of the press and public away from his land yesterday, stationing staff in vehicles at key entrances.

He stressed his business had nothing to do with the unexplained death and said: "This is my livelihood and it will hit me pretty hard.

"There are people coming and going here all the time. It is nothing to do with the wedding side of it, but the problem is it is going to be linked."

It is at least a two-hour drive from Beccles, where police were contacted shortly before 9am on Friday after a member of the public found what he thought was a pool of congealed blood, together with what appeared to be a clump of long, brown hair attached to tissue, on the A146.

Initial tests revealed the blood was human and the area was treated as a crime scene. The road was subsequently closed and cordoned off as police launched an investigation.

Police had not received a report of a collision in the area and checks with ambulance and hospitals did not reveal any potential casualties who might have been involved.

A team of officers carried out a detailed search of the area, the Suffolk police helicopter flew overhead with a thermal imaging camera and coastguards carried out searches along the nearby River Waveney, but there was no trace of an injured person.

Speaking on Saturday, Detective Chief Inspector Rick Munns, who is overseeing the investigation, said: "The amount of blood found on the road would suggest that someone has suffered an extremely serious injury and it is important that we find that person as soon as possible.

"Checks with hospitals are still negative - but the police have received a purse, which was found near the stretch of road, which may be relevant to the enquiry.

"The purse contained some property, such as bank and store cards, and police are conducting inquiries to try to trace the owner as a matter of priority."

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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