Couple 'may be victims of revenge killing'

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The Independent Online

A husband and wife who were found shot dead at their seaside retirement home may be victims of a revenge killing, according to police. Officers are investigating whether the unnamed couple were murdered because of the actions of one of their relatives.

A husband and wife who were found shot dead at their seaside retirement home may be victims of a revenge killing, according to police. Officers are investigating whether the unnamed couple were murdered because of the actions of one of their relatives.

Police were attempting to establish last night whether the victims were the parents of a convicted murderer, Michael O'Brien, 23. O'Brien was jailed for life last month for shooting dead Marvyn Bradshaw, 22, after a row outside a Nottingham pub. O'Brien shot Bradshaw because he believed he was a man who had hit him earlier in the night, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

But when O'Brien was found guilty, he threw a glass of water over the public gallery and then shouted at Mr Bradshaw's parents, Lyndon and Christine: "I'm not bothered. I'm a bad boy. It means nothing to me. Your son looked like a doughnut with a big hole in his head. I know where you live." Police are still hunting a man who was with O'Brien on the night of the shooting, Gary Salmon.

Lincolnshire police confirmed yesterday that the victims were believed to be originally from Nottinghamshire and had only recently moved to a bungalow in Trusthorpe, near Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire. Described as in their fifties and sixties, the victims are believed to have been murdered the day after their grandchildren had left after a visit to the holiday resort, which is halfway between Cleethorpes and Skegness.

The bodies of the couple were discovered at their semi-detached bungalow on the Radio St Peters estate at about 9.30pm on Sunday. Police and forensic science specialists were carrying out fingertip searches of the murder scene yesterday and the main Sutton Road between Mablethorpe and Trusthorpe remained cordoned off. Officers from Lincolnshire are said to be liaising with detectives in Nottinghamshire.

The officer in charge of the inquiry refused to be drawn yesterday on whether it appeared to be a professional hit.

Detectives are understood to be examining the background of the dead couple's family, whose actions may have provoked the shooting.

The victims are believed to have moved to the area about six months ago and were described by neighbours as "decent" people who were keen gardeners.

One neighbour said: "They always used to say hello. They were friendly. It is such a shock to have something like that happen in such a quiet place."

Another neighbour, Vic Peters, said: "They'd only just come on to the estate. They were decent people."

Detective Superintendent Graham White of Lincolnshire Police said the double shooting was "shocking" and rare in that part of the country. He said he could understand the local community being disturbed by what had happened, but said it was too early to speculate on any motive for the double murder.

Asked by reporters whether the victims were on a witness protection scheme, he replied that he had no information to suggest they were hiding from anyone, or that the killings had been a professional hit.

He said: "At approximately 9.30pm last night [Sunday] police officers attended premises here in Radio St Peters where they discovered the bodies of a man and woman, both of whom had died, apparently of gunshot wounds.

"At the moment we are trying to establish the identities of the man and woman. We are still trying to trace all of the families. We believe that we know who the victims are. We believe that they may have originated from the Nottinghamshire area but that has yet to be confirmed. At the moment the information that I have is that they are not under any kind of witness protection programme and as far as I know they have not been under any witness protection programme."

Det Supt White appealed for anyone in the area of the shootings between 6pm on Saturday and 10pm on Sunday who witnessed anything suspicious to contact the police.

He said: "Fortunately this type of incident is very unusual in Lincolnshire. In my experience, I have only known one incident of a similar nature. It is too early to start to form any opinions as to why this has happened. There is going to be a post-mortem examination, carried out by the Home Office pathologist. At the moment the crime scene is in its infancy and it is still being examined. We are putting a lot of time and effort and resources into detecting [this crime].

"It is very shocking and I can understand the community being very disturbed by that."