Police question man over farmer's murder

A man was being questioned by police today on suspicion of murdering a farmer believed to have died in a botched robbery.

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

A Sussex Police spokesman said the 40-year-old man from Ashford, Kent, was arrested in the town yesterday and taken to a custody centre in Eastbourne to be interviewed.

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 business partner found his body on Monday morning and detectives believe the murder took place some time after 11pm the previous day.

On Thursday police began searching a pond in Sandhurst, Kent, a few miles from the farm, where a burned-out Cherokee Jeep was found hours after the killing.

The Jeep had been in for repair at Mr Gardner's business and has been forensically examined and removed from the site.

Forensic searches were also being carried out at the farm.

A second 4x4, a Land Rover Defender owned by Mr Gardner, was also discovered burned-out at a different location, at Cripps Corner, near Battle, and it too was being 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 he 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 the lives of she and his sister, Anna Murphy, would never be the same again, adding: "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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas