Hampshire murder detective forged statement, court hears

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Lucy-Anne RushtonImage source, Family handout
Image caption,
Lucy-Anne Rushton was murdered by her estranged husband in 2019

A detective forged signatures on a witness statement to get evidence in early during a murder investigation, a court has heard.

Det Con Robert Ferrow, 50, took the statement on the day Lucy-Anne Rushton was killed at her home in Andover in 2019, a jury was told.

The Hampshire Constabulary officer allegedly signed pages on behalf of a friend of the murder suspect.

He denies the forgery charge at his trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Ms Rushton, 30, was killed by her estranged husband Shaun Dyson in the early hours of 23 June 2019.

He was later jailed for life with a minimum of 17 years after pleading guilty to murder.

Image source, Hampshire Police
Image caption,
Shaun Dyson was jailed for a minimum of 17 years for the murder

Robert Bryan, prosecuting Det Con Ferrow, said the experienced officer was seconded to the murder inquiry for just one day from his base in Portsmouth.

He said the detective took a statement from Ashley Grace-O'Neill, who had been in phone and text contact with Dyson that day.

After completing Mr Grace-O'Neill's evidence, the pair agreed the witness could sign blank pages so that transcripts of the text messages could be filled in later, the prosecutor said.

Mr Bryan said the officer later explained it had been a "judgement call to get evidence in ready for the interview team the following day".

However, the witness later denied that some of the signatures on the text message transcripts were his, Mr Bryan said.

A forensic handwriting expert concluded it was unlikely that Mr Grace-O'Neill had signed seven pages of his 23-page statement, the court heard.

Giving evidence, Mr Grace-O'Neill said he had texted his friend on the day of the murder in order to persuade him to hand himself in to the police.

In the afternoon, Dyson was found at the murder scene hiding in a cupboard which the police had not checked, the jury was told.

The forgery investigation was brought by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The trial continues.

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