Riders asked to help find gunman who murdered horsewoman

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The Independent Online

A riding instructor who was shot dead after her car was forced off a country lane could have been assaulted by her killer months before the murder, it was revealed yesterday.

A riding instructor who was shot dead after her car was forced off a country lane could have been assaulted by her killer months before the murder, it was revealed yesterday.

Tania Moore, 26, a talented equestrian, was less than a mile from home on Monday night when she was run off the road just outside the village of Longford, near Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, and then shot in the head at close range.

Police said they were investigating a possible link with a robbery at Ms Moore's home in June last year, in which she was beaten by two men with baseball bats.

Ms Moore's mother, Stella Moore, broke down yesterday as she appealed for help from the public at a press conference at Derbyshire police headquarters. She said: "My beautiful daughter Tania was bubbly, fun-loving and would do anything for anyone. [Yet] just a mile from her home she was ambushed and her life taken away in a premeditated, vicious murder."

Detectives believe the killer tried to cover up the murder by staging an accident. The victim was found in her car, a Volkswagen Polo, which was embedded in a hedge near a sharp bend. It was initially thought she had died in the impact, but a murder inquiry was launched after police found she had been shot.

A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Police said: "The fatal injuries were discovered when a police surgeon examined the body two or three hours after the original report. They weren't the result of a collision but they weren't immediately obvious."

Ms Moore, a graduate of Nottingham Trent University, was on her way home from a friend's house when it is believed she was forced off the road by her killer and shot once while in her car.

Police appealed for information about the equestrian's background and events leading to her death. Detective Superintendent John Briggs said that as well as the possible burglary link, three main areas were being investigated.

He said he needed people to come forward who had travelled on the roads between Ednaston and Longford on the night of the killing. Ms Moore had been driving on Long Lane, close to the farm that she shared with her mother in Alkmonton, in the moments before her death. Det Supt Briggs said a number of people who were in the area that night had contacted police, but he believed other potential witnesses had yet to come forward.

He also appealed for members of the area's riding community to come forward. Ms Moore had worked as an instructor at a number of stables around Derbyshire, kept more than a dozen horses of her own and regularly competed in show-jumping contests and dressage at county level. She had recently enlarged her farm to devote more time to teaching customers how to ride.

Det Supt Briggs' said he was also seeking information about anyone who may have had access to an illegal or fully licensed shotgun.

"The primary emphasis of our investigation still remains on talking to people who were using the roads in that area on Monday evening," he told the press conference.

Rebecca Hyde, 18, who keeps three horses at Ms Moore's farm, said: "Tania was always helpful, and if anyone was in need she would be there. She never had a bad word to say about anyone and would never get involved in something that didn't concern her. She wasn't confrontational.'

A man has appeared in court charged with two counts of making threats to kill and another of harassment against Ms Moore. Mark Dyche, 35, was remanded in custody and is due to appear before Derby and South Derbyshire magistrates next Thursday.