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Pensioner, 80, was ‘brutally attacked’ in own home, murder detective says

Police have launched a murder investigation after the death of Desmond Wooding.

The home of Desmond Wooding in Droitwich (Richard Vernalls/PA)
The home of Desmond Wooding in Droitwich (Richard Vernalls/PA)

An 80-year-old man found stabbed to death in his own home had been “brutally attacked”, police said.

Desmond Wooding, who lived alone, was found dead on Monday morning, having suffered stab wounds.

A neighbour raised the alarm after spotting the lights to his bungalow had been left on from the previous evening, West Mercia Police said.

Described by police as a “large character”, the widower, who got about using a red mobility scooter, was “well known” in the small town of Droitwich, in Worcestershire.

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80-year-old Desmond Wooding was found dead in his home in Vines Lane, Droitwich on Monday morning (West Mercia Police/PA).

He was last seen by a neighbour near his bungalow in Vines Lane on early Sunday evening, police said.

Detectives have issued CCTV of a man seen walking his dog in the area on Saturday June 22, who may have information which could be vital to their inquiry.

Superintendent Damian Pettit, speaking to reporters at the scene on Thursday, said: “This is an 80-year-old man, who has survived eight decades of life in peaceful harmony, who has been brutally attacked in his home where he should feel safest.

“It is absolutely vital the public step forward and don’t hesitate to pick up the phone.

“We are after any information that will help us with our investigation; that will help us identify what happened to Demsond and who may be responsible so we may bring them to justice.”

He added they were “keen” to speak to the individual pictured on CCTV, whose activities had been described to police as “suspicious”.

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A man pictured on CCTV walking near Mr Wooding’s address whom police want to trace in connection with the pensioner’s murder. (West Mercia Police/PA)

Mr Pettit said: “We have released CCTV images of a man and we are asking for public to come forward, asking them for information about who that person is.

“It may be the person themselves recognises themselves on CCTV.

“They are very interesting to our investigation on the basis that neighbours say that person’s actions were what they regard as suspicious – on or approximately about 11.30am on Saturday 22nd June – and for that reason he is of key importance to our murder investigation.

“That activity is described by witnesses as suspicious but that doesn’t then lead to them being a suspect in a murder. ”

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Wooding had been out and about in the town which lies only a short walk away over the River Salwarpe and nearby stretch of the Droitwich Canal, said police.

Appealing for sightings of the victim to help piece together a firmer timeline of his movements in the run up to his death, Mr Pettit said: “Desmond had been out and about in Droitwich, we understand.

“He uses a mobility scooter, red in colour, with a basket on the front and that may help jog people’s memory.

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A cordon is still in place at the address. (Richard Vernalls/PA)

“He’s quite a large character in terms of his personality, and would socialise with people around town and people, who would know him by sight and to speak to.”

Police said there had been no sign of forced entry at the home, and were tight-lipped on whether anything had been taken or not.

They confirmed Mr Wooding, described as a family man, was inside the home when he was attacked and had sustained “more than one” stab wound in the assault.

Specially trained officers have been searching neighbours’ hedges, bins and the drains, although Mr Pettit would not be drawn on whether or not a possible murder weapon had yet been recovered.

Asked about potential motives for the killing, the superintendent added: “That’s yet to be established.

“Clearly we’ve a murder investigation ongoing at the moment which tests a number of hypotheses.”

On Thursday, police were also combing the heavy undergrowth by the railway line.

The thick vegetation runs for some distance, all along the rear of the victim’s semi-detached bungalow – which is the last in a row of similar properties.

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Police have been continuing to search heavy undergrowth near to the address. (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Meanwhile, stunned residents described their shock at the news of Mr Wooding’s death in what is ordinarily a quiet town.

Neighbours said he and his late wife Maureen, who was known as Mo, had moved to the bungalow more than 10 years ago and lived together at the home until her death some years later.

Mr Wooding had lived alone at the property ever since.

Sisters Susan Ballinger and May Jones, who live opposite, said he was a “lovely man”.

“He was always outgoing and always spoke to everybody,” said Ms Ballinger, who has lived on the street for 25 years.

She added: “If he was in the garden and saw you he always shouted over.”

The pair had been away for part of the weekend and woke on Monday to find police outside their neighbour’s home.

Ms Jones said: “We were in shock at first, but it’s frightening not knowing what has gone on.”

Natalie Parsons, who lives nearby, said: “I knew him to say hello to.

“This is a nice area and a nice street, with the river, the canal and the park nearby. It’s a really massive shock.”

PA

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