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'He was all about community': tributes paid to old school police officer Eric Shields

PUBLISHED: 05:30 22 October 2019

Eric Shields inspired his family to take up careers in the police force (from the left) are: Eric Shields, Kevin Shields, Michael Shields and Melanie Shields Picture: JOHN KERR

Eric Shields inspired his family to take up careers in the police force (from the left) are: Eric Shields, Kevin Shields, Michael Shields and Melanie Shields Picture: JOHN KERR

A Suffolk police officer who worked on some of the biggest cases in the county's history has died.

Detective Inspector Eric Shields and Detective Superintendent Herbert Jenkins examine the contents of one of the boiler hideaways where illegal immigrants were found in Felixstowe in December 1971 Picture: Tony RayDetective Inspector Eric Shields and Detective Superintendent Herbert Jenkins examine the contents of one of the boiler hideaways where illegal immigrants were found in Felixstowe in December 1971 Picture: Tony Ray

Eric Shields died aged 89 after having spent almost four decades protecting the people of Suffolk.

Mr Shields was born in Lincolnshire but had moved to Ipswich with his family at around nine years of age.

He met his wife Barbara at Sunday School aged 12 and spent the rest of their lives together.

Mr Shields joined the-then East Suffolk Police in 1950, having spent his national service as a military police officer in Italy.

Former Suffolk police Detective Chief Superintendent Eric Shields has died Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEFormer Suffolk police Detective Chief Superintendent Eric Shields has died Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

He worked his way up through the force over the years, and worked on some of the county's most notorious cases including the murder of Diane Jones, the death of a one-week old baby in Bramford and the abduction of three-year-old Leoni Keating.

Perhaps the most high profile case Mr Shields worked on was that of the Tattingstone suitcase murder in 1967.

Mr Shields was a detective sergeant when the body of Bernard Oliver was found in a suitcase.

Speaking in 2011 Mr Shields said: "One of the drawbacks of the whole investigation was that we didn't find the scene of the crime.

Eric and his family celebrate a century of police service back in 2006 Picture: John KerrEric and his family celebrate a century of police service back in 2006 Picture: John Kerr

"I'm sure all the officers who worked on the Tattingstone murder are disappointed nobody has been brought to book."

Mr Shields retired from Suffolk Constabulary, after having risen to the role Detective Chief Superintendent, in 1987.

After leaving Suffolk Constabulary Mr Shields took on a few other roles including as safety officer for Ipswich Town where he helped to implement the recommendations of the Taylor report, following the Hillsborough tragedy.

Aside from his work Mr Shields was a keen golfer and spent much of his free time with his family holidaying across the UK.

"He spent a lot of time with the family," said his younger son Mike Shields.

Mr Shields remembered on one holiday to Aldeburgh his father had been fishing when he was pulled away by another policeman who need his expertise.

"He spent 37 years serving the people of Suffolk," said Mr Shields, "He was all about community."

Mr Shields had three children, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren; of these his two sons and two of his grandchildren have gone on to work for Suffolk police in some way.

A funeral service will be held at Seven Hills Crematorium on Tuesday, October 29.

What cases did Mr Shields work on?

Diane Jones murder

Diane Jones went missing, while two months pregnant in July 1983. She was seen at the Woolpack pub in Coggeshall with her husband on July 23.

According to the major crime current position report the pair left the pub at closing time after Diane was "manhandled" out of the pub by her husband. Mrs Jones was found dead 30 miles away in Brightwell three months later having been with her skull having been fractured in four places.

Despite having been arrested several times Dr Robert Jones has always denied publicly, and to the police, that he had anything to do with his wife's murder.

The case remains unsolved.

Bramford baby

A one week old baby was found dead and burned in a remote part of Bramford Marshes in March 1984.

Teenagers had come across the body while sheltering from the rain and had initially believed it to be a doll.

Police appealed for the mother to come forward believing she would be in a 'distressed condition' but the baby's parents were never found.

The baby had no name and was instead referred to as 'Innocent' when buried.

The case remains unsolved.

Leoni Keating

Three-year-old Leoni Keating was abducted from a caravan at Great Yarmouth in September 1985. Leoni was sexually abused before being drowned in water at Barton Mills. Her body was found in the water three days later.

Nine months after she was found Gary Hopkins, now known as Xavier Themis, was given a life sentence for her murder.

Tattingstone suitcase murder

The body of Bernard Oliver was found in 1967 having been cut into several pieces and left in two suitcases.

Mr Oliver had left his home in London to spend the evening with friends.

Ten days later his body was found in Tattingstone.

The case gathered national interest but his killer was never found.

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