Man bailed over Sussex farm murder

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The Independent Online

A man arrested over the murder of a farmer believed to have died in a botched robbery has been released on bail, police said today.

Julian Gardner, 53, suffered multiple injuries after apparently disturbing crooks at isolated Bush Barn Farm in Robertsbridge, East Sussex.

A 29-year-old man from the Ashford area of Kent was arrested on Friday and questioned over the weekend but was released on bail until November 26, a Sussex Police spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile a 40-year-old man, also from Ashford, who was arrested over the murder a week ago is due to answer bail on November 25.

Police believe Mr Gardner may have disturbed somebody who was trying to break into outbuildings at the farm where he ran an agricultural and car repair business.

One theory is that his compression-type injuries were sustained when he was crushed between two vehicles.

His body was found by his business partner and detectives believe the murder took place some time after 11pm the previous day.

Forensic searches have been carried out on a burned-out Cherokee Jeep, which had been in for repair at Mr Gardner's business and was found hours after the killing, in Sandhurst, Kent, a few miles from the farm.

A second 4x4, a Land Rover Defender owned by Mr Gardner, was discovered burned-out at a different location - Cripps Corner, near Battle - and has been forensically examined.

Police said inquiries into Mr Gardner's background found nothing to suggest he might have been the victim of a grudge attack.

His death came just days after a campaign to keep locals safe, with police, crime prevention officers, locksmiths and alarm firms offering tips to prevent burglaries.

Police said there was no evidence that Mr Gardner had been burgled in the past. In October last year he reported to police an attempted theft of vehicle batteries from his farm, off the A21.

Youths had tried to flee after putting the batteries in a wheelbarrow but they abandoned them when they were disturbed by a neighbour.

It has emerged that Mr Gardner's 90-year-old widowed mother was asleep in the main farmhouse when her son was killed.

In a statement, Molly Gardner said her life and that of his sister, Anna Murphy, would never be the same again.

She said: "The space he leaves will never be filled."

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0845 6070 999, quoting Operation Bradford, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.