Friday 24 November 2017

Pensioner's murder and stabbing of boy (9) linked to girl terror chase

Police officers outside Prospect Mount, Shipley, where Louisa Denby was found dead.
Police officers outside Prospect Mount, Shipley, where Louisa Denby was found dead.

Sam Beattie and Dave Higgens

Police are linking the murder of an 84-year-old woman to the stabbing of a nine-year-old boy and another incident in which an eight-year-old girl was chased into her home.

West Yorkshire Police said a 26-year-old man has been arrested over the murder of pensioner Louisa Denby at her home in Shipley, West Yorkshire, yesterday and the attempted murder of the nine-year-old boy at a nearby skate park.

Speaking at the skate park, Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin said the boy was stabbed yesterday for no reason and with no warning.

The officer said a girl was chased through her garden 10 minutes after the attack on the boy yesterday afternoon.

Ms Griffin said five people were in custody in relation to the three related incidents and officers were not looking for anyone else.

She confirmed that a knife had been recovered and that the 26-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder was related to Mrs Denby.

"Ten minutes after that attack on a nine-year-old boy, an eight-year-old girl was chased through her garden at home.

"Fortunately the girl went inside the house and nothing untoward happened to her."

The officer said inquiries into these two incidents had led detectives to a house in Prospect Mount where Mrs Denby's body was found.

"It's my belief at this time that the three incidents are linked," Ms Griffin said.

"I make that assertion on the basis that the description of the suspect tallies with the two incidents involving the children.

"We've made that link and we're appealing to the public to give us information about the person responsible.

"We've had lots of information which has led to a number of arrests."

Ms Griffin said: "The nine-year-old boy was out playing and was returning home for a drink when he was approached by the male suspect and, with no prior warning and for no reason known to us at this time, he was attacked with a knife - a single stab wound causing him injuries to his chest and his arm."

The boy was taken to Leeds General Infirmary after emergency services were called to the skate park at about 4.40pm yesterday. He was due to undergo surgery today and is described as being in a stable condition.

The detective said the girl was playing in her garden "when a male approached and tried to draw her attention, chased her through the garden and she went into her home address".

She said no contact was made with the girl and no weapon was seen.

Ms Griffin said: "I would still encourage the public to make any call to us if they can possibly assist with further information about the male who we believe is responsible for the attack on the nine-year-old boy and the murder of the 84-year-old lady."

She said police and forensics officers were working on 10 different scenes in the area.

Mrs Denby's body was found just before midnight last night. She had suffered a number of stab wounds, police have said.

The pensioner's next-door neighbour, Jackie Smith, paid tribute to the retired teacher today, saying she was a friend and a "lovely lady".

"She was such a good neighbour and she was really respected down this road," she said, clearly shaken as she spoke outside her home.

"She was my husband's school teacher and then, when she moved in, she'd say 'Hiya, Michael, I remember you'. She was absolutely lovely."

Mrs Smith said she grew increasingly worried for the pensioner's well-being as events unfolded late yesterday.

"It all seemed to happen around teatime. There were helicopters but it quietened down for a bit," she recalled.

"Last night I could hear them (police) breaking her door down - I assume because there was nobody answering.

"That's when I really thought Mrs Denby was in trouble and I just felt so sorry for her, I really did.

"I just can't believe it. It's just awful.

"She had loads of respect from people. You couldn't ask for a better neighbour. I'm going to lay some flowers for her now."

Mrs Smith said Mrs Denby had lived at the address for about 23 years, adding: "Her mum lived there before and her mum lived to be 90-something."

Local retailer Chandrika Patel, whose shop backs on to the park, said she and her customers were taken aback when they heard how events had unfolded.

She said parents would stop their children playing in the park following the stabbing.

"He's such a good lad," she said. "He's always playing outside and sometimes comes in here.

"Everyone's shocked by it all. It's a friendly area."

David Jacobs, who lives near Mrs Denby, said the "terrifying" incidents of the last 24 hours have left the community "shell-shocked".

"My son said 'Dad, Dad! Someone's been stabbed and an old lady's been murdered.'

"My heart went. You worry straight away.

"I know the little boy because he plays with my son. It's tragic.

"He's a very nice, normal lad who likes to play on his scooter and at the park and play on his bike.

"You can't understand why someone's done that to a little lad like that.

"The police were at school today and we had to go to school with our children today.

"People are scared to let their kids out. They're all going to keep them in tonight.

"You think 'Is it safe any more?'.

Police have said the 26-year-old man now in custody was spotted by a member of the public in Westfield Lane, Idle, Bradford, at 4.10am today and detained by officers.

The police spokesman said another 26-year-old man has also been arrested in connection with the murder.

Three other local men - aged 18, 24 and 29 - have been arrested over the incident in the skate park, he added.

Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, the police commander for the area, admitted that the police activity in the area could be causing concern for local people but said she wanted to reassure the public.

Ms Williams said: "The three incidents that took place yesterday are very, very unusual. It's not the norm for this area whatsoever.

"I know the community has been a little shook by it, as is to be expected. But we are not seeking anybody else. We have five men in custody."

Ms Williams said the police had been inundated with help from local people and that the community had "come together" following the attacks.

Officers said the eight-year-old girl was chased in Prospect Grove.

Press Association

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