Man arrested at port over double murder in Birmingham

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The Independent Online

A 28-year-old man was arrested today over the murders of two young women as he apparently tried to flee the country.

The man was arrested by Kent Police officers as he attempted to board a ferry at Dover. The two women were found at an address in Ryland Street, Ladywood, Birmingham, at about 5.40pm yesterday.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Mirfield said: "Both girls had been subjected to a sustained and violent attack. We believe at at this stage at least one or more weapons had been used." He added that there appeared to be "signs of ransacking".

He would not say what led the police to the man who was arrested, but added: "We had a suspicion early on that he may have been involved in the attack."

Mr Mirfield told the press conference at West Midlands Police HQ in Birmingham: "At 6.30am this morning a 28-year-old man from Birmingham was detained by officers from the Kent constabulary.

"This man, we believe, was attempting to board a ferry from Dover. We also believe that the arrested man may be known to the victims."

He said the scene at the flat was "particularly challenging forensically" and the bodies were still in the apartment where they were found. He added: "We need to examine how the doors lock, but it doesn't appear there was any forced entry".

He informed gathered journalists that the women, who lived together in the flat, were discovered by the building's concierge who forced entry after family members grew concerned that they had not been seen or spoken to for some time. He added that he believed the girls were killed "sometime over the weekend".

"There was no indication that they had been restrained during the attack," he said. "There was a substantial amount of blood inside many of the rooms."

He said police believed the man arrested has connections to at least one or both of the women. However, he said he was not related to them and officers were not looking for anyone else.

Asked about rumours that the girls were involved in prostitution, he said: "That information has not come to me." He said he was unable to confirm the victims' identities but family members were being supported by family liaison officers.

Officers are concentrating on the scene in and around Jupiter Apartments in Ryland Street where the bodies were found, including the car park below the apartments, while detectives examine CCTV and conduct house-to-house inquiries in the area.

Superintendent Matt Ward, who is in charge of the area's city centre policing reassured residents it remained a safe place to live, work and study.

He said: "We want to reassure the local community that although this is a tragic and horrendous crime, at this stage we believe it to be an isolated incident. Local officers are working with colleagues from the major investigation unit to protect and secure a number of scenes."

The Jupiter complex is a newly-built contemporary apartment development, just off Broad Street, the city's main strip of bars, clubs and restaurants. Many residents leaving for work were surprised to hear of the deaths from waiting journalists.