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Cringleford man Alexander Palmer could stand trial for murder of Peter Wrighton next year

PUBLISHED: 18:00 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:38 16 August 2017

Alexander Palmer, 23, who has been charged with the murder of Peter Wrighton. Picture Facebook.

Alexander Palmer, 23, who has been charged with the murder of Peter Wrighton. Picture Facebook.

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A former soldier from Cringleford accused of the murder of 83-year-old Peter Wrighton could stand trial in February next year.

Peter Wrighton, 83, of Banham, who was murdered in East Harling. Picture Norfolk Constabulary Peter Wrighton, 83, of Banham, who was murdered in East Harling. Picture Norfolk Constabulary

The body of Mr Wrighton, a married father and grandfather from Banham, was discovered in woodland near East Harling on Saturday, August 5.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and head.

Alexander Palmer, 23, of Freesia Way, Cringleford, who served with the British Army between 2010 and 2015, appeared at Norwich Crown Court today (Tuesday, August 15) after being charged with murder.

Palmer, who was wearing a yellow and green tracksuit, appeared via videolink from Norwich Prison and spoke only to confirm his name.

Police conduct anniversary checks near the scene of the murder of Peter Wrighton in East Harling, Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher Police conduct anniversary checks near the scene of the murder of Peter Wrighton in East Harling, Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher

No pleas were taken during the short hearing which lasted just over three minutes.

MORE: Man charged with murder of Peter Wrighton appears in court via video link

Chris Youell, prosecution barrister, said there would be no application for bail today so they were seeking a remand in custody through to the plea and trial preparation hearing on September 12.

The court heard a provisional date for a trial had been pencilled in for February 12 next year.

Judge Stephen Holt said: “Mr Palmer, I hope you’ve understood what’s gone on this morning?

“There will be a hearing in one month’s time (September 12). That’s a plea and case management hearing when we will sort out various matters about the trial.”

Judge Holt confirmed that, at the moment, a trial date had been pencilled in for February next year.

It is expected the trial might last two weeks.

MORE: Man charged with murder of Banham grandfather Peter Wrighton

The case was due to be heard in court four but was moved to court one in order to accommodate the large number of people who wanted to attend, including family and friends of the defendant.

There was also a large contingent of reporters from local and national media.

As a 16-year-old Palmer, formerly of Old Buckenham, received a top grade after a gruelling selection process and in September 2010 was due to start training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.

Police have said The Street in East Harling remains closed whilst the investigation continues and officers are still working in the area, providing reassurance, speaking with witnesses and conducting house to house and CCTV enquiries.

Detectives are also searching and forensically examining a number of locations, including at Cringleford and Dereham Road, Bawdeswell, where police confirmed Palmer was arrested, which are linked to the investigation.

MORE: Police probing East Harling murder of Peter Wrighton get extra time to quiz suspect, while new witnesses identified

Ronald Mercer, who lives near to the sealed off property in Bawdeswell, said he saw someone being arrested and put in an unmarked car at about 11.30am on Saturday.

Police said the searches would continue for a couple of days.

Mr Wrighton, a former BT worker, has been described as a as “a lovely, gentle husband, dad and grandfather” who loved walking his dogs, Gemma and Dylan.

A statement released by police on behalf of Mr Wrighton’s family following his death, paid tribute to his “kind nature” and his “love of walking his dogs and chatting with people to pass the time of day”.

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