Police to search paedophile's garden for 35-year-old human remains

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The Independent Online

Police will today start a detailed search for human remains in the garden of a house where a convicted paedophile once lived.

The investigation came after claims in an anonymous letter to the tenants at the house that the child abuser had hidden body parts from a crime committed 35 years ago.

Detectives spent a year looking into the allegations made against the paedophile, Leslie Ford-Thrussell, and had decided to dig up the garden after uncovering evidence to support the claims. The garden, at a house on the New Addington Estate in Croydon, south London, has been sealed off and is being treated as a potential crime scene. Ford-Thrussell, 72, is serving a 12 years in jail for sex crimes against children aged 13 and under from 1986 to 2003. He was convicted in 2004 after admitting 41 offences including rape, indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and making obscene images. The former gardener was not living at the house at the time of the incidents referred to in the letter. He lived there later for 17 years prior to being jailed. It is thought detectives are investigating whether he had links to the property before then. Missing persons files from 35 years ago have been checked, but detectives have found no link to anyone from the house.

The writer of the anonymous letter has been identified and is being treated as a potential witness.

Detectives said that they had found some "additional evidence" and "other information" to support the claims contained in the letter. They said that a phased forensic examination of both the house and the gardens would start with a fingertip search today.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Stockford said: "We are not certain that an offence has been committed. We are taking a proportionate response to information that indicates that an offence may have been committed."