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Stabbing victim 'a devoted mother'

The family of a mother-of-five who was stabbed to death in a New Forest field have spoken of their "devastation" at the death of a "remarkable person" and a "devoted mother".

Penelope Davis, known as Pennie, had been tending to her two horses in the field near Beaulieu, Hampshire, at about 4.40pm on Tuesday, September 2, when she was killed.

The 47-year-old supermarket worker from Blackfield was found by her husband, Pete, who is said to be "distraught" at her death.

A statement released by the family through police said: "We are devastated by the death of our beloved mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend.

"Pennie was a remarkable person. She was a devoted mother of five children who worked hard to ensure that they had everything they needed. She cared for and supported them in everything they did.

"In May she married her love, Pete, at a joyful occasion surrounded by her loved ones.

"Pennie was the kind of woman who once she became your friend she was a friend for life. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and grief that her death has caused.

"She was particularly close to her mother who is devastated by her death and who joins the whole family in appealing to everyone for help in finding the perpetrator of this crime."

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton, of Hampshire police, said: "We carried out an autopsy on Mrs Davis yesterday at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and I can reveal that the cause of death was multiple stab wounds.

"This is therefore a murder inquiry."

Mr Barton said that Mrs Davis visited the field on a daily basis to tend to her horses and that her husband would often meet her there.

He said that at this stage it was not known if the killer was known to her and would not comment on whether a murder weapon had been found.

He said: "She comes down to tend her horses every day, the time may vary depending on her shift pattern.

"Her husband is extremely distraught at the moment."

Mr Barton added: "We urgently need to trace and speak to witnesses. We want to speak to anyone who was in the area of the paddock by Leygreen Farm on Tuesday afternoon between 2pm and 5pm.

"This is just north of Beaulieu and a popular route used by local commuters from Lymington to Southampton to avoid Lyndhurst.

"We believe there will have been tourists in this area at the time as well as commuters, walkers, and people out fishing in the adjacent river.

"Anyone who thinks they can help is urged to call us as soon as possible by dialling 101 and asking for Op Biscotti. Information can also be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Mr Barton said that about 70 officers were involved in the investigation.

A tent is currently in place to preserve the crime scene and police officers are guarding the property.

Forensic officers have begun a finger-tip search of the field where Mrs Davis was found.

Workers can be seen in the grounds of Leygreen Farm which is opposite the field.

The scene is about half-a-mile from the famous Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

Apart from the farm, the only neighbouring property is a bed and breakfast and the owner said she did not want to comment.

A nearby resident said: "You're not safe anywhere."

Another resident said: "It's a little strange, they seem to be saying it's murder which is unusual, nothing like that has happened in the 15 years I have lived here."

The Southern Daily Echo, the local newspaper for the Southampton area, has stated on its website that Mrs Davis previously worked for the paper as a business development representative between 2010 and 2011.

Editor Ian Murray said in a statement on the website: "All of us who remember working with Pennie are shocked by the terrible news of her death.

"Pennie was a lively, bubbly and professional member of the team here who always seemed in good spirits whatever the challenge.

"She and I worked together on projects on many occasions and it is a personal blow to learn of her death.

"Along with everyone else here at the Daily Echo, I wish to send my deepest condolences to Pennie's family, especially her children and husband of just a few months, Pete."

Newspaper sales and promotions manager Kerry Darwin said: "Myself and my team are shocked at today's news of the sad loss of Pennie. She was truly brilliant at her job and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time."


From Belfast Telegraph