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Hope fades for missing wife of pensioner found stabbed to death in woods

Published 08/06/2016

Forklift driver Ali Qazimaj (pictured) went on the run after Peter Stuart, 75, was knifed to death and his wife Sylvia, 69, went missing
Forklift driver Ali Qazimaj (pictured) went on the run after Peter Stuart, 75, was knifed to death and his wife Sylvia, 69, went missing

There is "very little hope" that the missing wife of a pensioner who was stabbed to death will be found alive, police have said.

Sylvia Stuart, 69, and her husband Peter, 75, were last seen on May 29 when they were caught on CCTV going shopping together.

His body was found with multiple stab wounds in woodland near their home in Weybread, Suffolk, on Friday June 3.

Kosovan immigrant Ali Qazimaj is wanted in connection with the murder and went on the run around 24 hours after Mr Stuart's body was discovered.

The 42-year-old, who goes by the name Marco Costa, caught a ferry from Dover to Calais at around 6:30pm on Saturday June 4.

Police had been pursuing the possibility that he abducted Mrs Stuart but officers say he made the journey to France alone.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes said there is "no indication at all that they have ever been together in any shape or form".

He described the chance of finding Mrs Stuart alive now as "extremely remote".

"Since she was last seen on the CCTV we are now some 10 days further forward, we've had no reported sightings and no information to indicate that she may be alive," he added.

"We now think there is very little hope. Clearly Peter was killed, she would appear to have gone missing around the same sort of time, and we haven't seen or heard or had any information to indicate she has been alive throughout the last 10 days.

"We have to consider that it is the most likely possibility."

Police are working with European authorities and have launched legal proceedings to obtain a European Arrest Warrant for Mr Qazimaj.

"We know precious little about him," Mr Parkes added.

"He is a suspect in a murder investigation in which someone was repeatedly stabbed - we have to assume he may be dangerous. We have no way of knowing if he is armed."

He continued: "We know that he was living in Tilbury in Essex and that he has been working in Purfleet as a forklift driver.

"We believe he is from Kosovo, that he sought asylum following the conflict and was granted this and given a British passport.

"We urgently need anyone who knows him, who may have spent time with him over the last few weeks or before this to get in touch and tell us more about his background so that we can trace his movements.

"We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have seen him between Sunday 29 May and when he left the country on Saturday 4 June, or anyone who can shed light on where he may have been between these times."

Mr Qazimaj's car, a silver Citroen C3, was found near the ferry terminal in Dover at around midnight on Sunday. The vehicle has been searched and will be forensically examined.

Members of the public are warned not to approach him but to call 999 immediately if he is seen.

He is described as white, around 5ft 6in, with brown eyes and dark brown, greying hair.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw Mr and Mrs Stuart between May 29 and June 3 to come forward.

The couple were captured on CCTV walking into Goodies Farm Shop in Wood Lane in Pulham Market at around 10.20am on May 29.

Mr Stuart's body was found in woodland close to where the couple lived in Mill Lane, Weybread.

It is not known when he was murdered and officers are "still trying to understand" if he was stabbed at the scene or whether his killer moved the body.

A 61-year-old man from Leicester was arrested on suspicion of murder and has been released on bail to return to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre on August 3.

Anyone with information can contact Suffolk Police through the incident room on 01473 782000.

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