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Family of murdered Peter Wrighton says his killer was failed by mental health service

PUBLISHED: 16:30 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:30 28 February 2018

Peter Wrighton's children, Carol Todd and Andrew Wrighton outside Nottingham Crown Court. Photo: Archant

Peter Wrighton's children, Carol Todd and Andrew Wrighton outside Nottingham Crown Court. Photo: Archant

Archant

The devastated family of murdered dog walker has told how they and his killer have been “failed” by mental health professionals.

Peter Wrighton's family give a statement outside Nottingham Crown Court on February 28 after a jury convicted Alexander Palmer of murdering Mr Wrighton. Peter Wrighton's family give a statement outside Nottingham Crown Court on February 28 after a jury convicted Alexander Palmer of murdering Mr Wrighton.

Speaking outside Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday, after a jury took just 49 minutes to convict Alexander Palmer of Peter Wrighton’s murder, they said they felt the crime could have been prevented.

Mr Wrighton, 83, was murdered by Alexander Palmer, 24, in August last year in woods near East Harling.

At the trial it emerged Palmer, a former solider, had a grudge against dog walkers and mental health issues.

Mr Wrighton’s daughter Carol Todd, who read out a statement with her brother Andrew Wrighton, said: “On August 5 last year in a beautiful Saturday morning, my dad... was viciously attacked while walking his dogs. He was quite simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY East Harling murder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

“The shock of it has been compounded by the fact he was such a lovely, gentle person who people always warmed to. The most unlikely person to have something like that happen to them.

“We have all been struggling to come to terms with losing him in such a way and our mum, his wife of 59 years, has been left bereft and lonely.

“We are so grateful to the police force for the huge amount of work they have done to achieve this result today and the kindness and understanding they have given us.

“We also want to thank the local residents and dog-walkers for their co-operation and support.

Peter Wrighton. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary Peter Wrighton. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

“However, the revelations of the evidence relating to the mental health of Alexander Palmer have shocked, astounded and angered us.

“Evidently an intelligent person, he was able to take himself off medication and get himself discharged from care.

“We feel this should not have happened and mental health professionals failed him, his family and our family.

“My mum, brother, myself and our children not only feel grief but anger, as we believe this crime could have been prevented.”

Alexander Palmer. Picture: Facebook. Alexander Palmer. Picture: Facebook.

Mr Wrighton’s son Andrew added they felt sorry for Palmer’s family.

The 54-year old said: “What they’ve been through must be fairly similar to us - it must be devastating for them I would imagine.”

He said he hoped Palmer would be jailed for a “long, long time” and revealed they were supporting a serious case review to see if mistakes were made in the case - and if they could be prevented in the future.

He said: “There will be a case review and we will look forward to having the results of that.”

He paid tribute to his father as a “lovely man” who was always looking to help others.

Mr Wrighton said his dad was a family man who cared for his wife Ann, his children and his grandchildren.

His parents would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in March.

Mr Wrighton said his father’s death had knocked his mum for six and for her in particular life would never be what it was.

But he added she will fight on and with the support of her family look after Mr Wrighton’s dogs, Dylan and Gemma, and stay in their Banham home.

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