Police release two held over farm killing

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The Independent Online

Two men have been released on bail by detectives investigating the killing of a man during a bungled robbery at his farm.

A 39-year-old man from Ashford, Kent, and a 43-year-old man from Maidstone were arrested yesterday on suspicion of murdering Julian Gardner, and bailed to February 2.

Mr Gardner, 53, suffered multiple injuries after disturbing intruders at Bush Barn Farm in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, where he ran an agricultural and car repair business.

Detectives believe he was woken by a noise and set off to investigate, taking a shotgun with him, before confronting a gang as they ransacked his workshop in the early hours of October 11.

His body was found by his business partner later that day.

One theory is that the compression-type injuries Mr Gardner sustained were caused when he was crushed between two vehicles.

Eleven people have now been arrested by Sussex Police's major crime branch but so far no one has been charged with Mr Gardner's killing.

A £10,000 reward has been offered by officers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

During a reconstruction on the BBC's Crimewatch programme last week, Mr Gardner's mother Molly Gardner, 91, appealed directly to the consciences of her son's killers and asked: "I would say, was what you gained worth a life?"

Other appeals made on the programme were for a missing Breda shotgun, used by licensed firearms owner Mr Gardner for clay pigeon shooting, and sightings of his Land Rover Defender, which was stolen and found burnt-out in Cripps Corner, near Battle, and of a Cherokee Jeep, which had been in for repair at his business and was also found burnt-out hours after the killing, in Sandhurst, Kent, a few miles from the farm.

A dark blue Subaru Legacy car, registration P304 MOO, was also recovered by police from the car park of The Crusader pub in Ashford.

Property stolen from Mr Gardner included a Dell computer, taken from his workshop, vehicle parts, spray guns, tyres, wheels, drills and chainsaws.

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