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Documentary reveals how police solved Dereham murder

PUBLISHED: 11:02 19 June 2015 | UPDATED: 11:02 19 June 2015

Murder victim Elaine Walpole

Murder victim Elaine Walpole

When Elaine Walpole's body was found at her Dereham home in April 2008, fatally stabbed and with bite marks to her face, her family were left distraught and bewildered at who would want to kill the gentle mother-of-three.

Juvinai Ferreira was sentenced to life in prison, with parole set at 22 yearsJuvinai Ferreira was sentenced to life in prison, with parole set at 22 years

But what began as a simple murder case turned into one of the most challenging investigations that Norfolk police had ever dealt with.

Now a new documentary has been aired giving a deeper insight into the detective work which led to the arrest and conviction of Gambian migrant Juvinai Ferreira, and the lengths Norfolk police went to, using forensic dentistry and anthropology, to ensure that this murder didn’t go unpunished and to secure the appropriate sentence.

Presented by Phil Davis the Crime and Investigation Network production, for the series A Town and Country Murder, heard from DCI Jes Fry of the Norfolk Major Investigation Team and members of Ms Walpole’s family - her sister Jill Burrell, and twin daughters Sam Butters and Kirsty Pullen.

The programme, aired for the first time on Monday, took viewers back to the night of April 29, 2008, when 47-year-old Ms Walpole’s body was found in her flat in Driebholz Court and the reaction of her family and community to the news of her death.

A Town & Country Murder. Pictured:  Presenter Phil Davis. Picture: Flame for A+E NetworksA Town & Country Murder. Pictured: Presenter Phil Davis. Picture: Flame for A+E Networks

She had been stabbed three times and had 50 other injuries.

“We just couldn’t take it in, because something like that doesn’t happen to you and especially in Dereham,” Mrs Burrell said.

Former Dereham Mayor Tim Birt said the shockwaves echoed around the town. “Dereham is a very low crime area so when something like this happens, we can’t come to terms with it very easily and there’s this element of unknown and what’s happened and just basic shock.”

With Ferreira trying to flee the country, and being arrested for a separate crime in Hertfordshire, piecing together his movements, motive and proving his guilt were proving difficult.

Months of dogged detective work finally established all the links police needed to charge him with murder and getting evidence from a forensic dentist, an odentologist, meant they could also add a charge of rape.

Determined to prove Ferreira was an adult and not a juvenile as he claimed police then turned to a bone expert and, in a race against time to find the evidence before sentencing, they were able to prove Ferreira was at least 19 years old.

On the March 27, 2009, after an 11-month investigation Juvinai Ferreira was sentenced as an adult to life in prison with a parole date three times what he would have received as a juvenile.

DCI Fry said: “This was excellent news. Every time we thought we were getting somewhere, there would be another block put in the way, and it was a long journey, but this was the end of the road and we were able to achieve what we exactly set out for.”

Mrs Pullen said everyone was just relieved, that after so long they had finally got justice for her mum.

“The police were amazing,” she said. “They went above and beyond what we ever thought they’d do to secure a long sentence for us.”

Mrs Butters added: “It still doesn’t seem real that my mum’s not here anymore. It’s just like a nightmare really. You never think it’s going to happen to you as a family, but it’s happened to us.”

* A Town and Country Murder is on satellite channel CI on Sky 553 and 554 (+1), Virgin Media 237, and BT 433 or online on demand.

* Do you have a crime story? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.

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