The prime suspect in a double murder in the North of England was on bail when he beat his two vulnerable victims to death, according to police leading a nationwide manhunt yesterday.
James Allen – wanted for the murders of Colin Dunford in Middlesbrough and charity worker Julie Davison in Whitby, North Yorkshire – used to live next door to Mr Dunford, it was revealed.
Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang, of Cleveland Police, said there had been a number of sightings of Mr Allen since the murders in Middlesbrough, Whitby and Scarborough – but the last confirmed one was in Middlesbrough on Monday, the day Mr Dunford's body was found.
He confirmed that 35-year-old Allen was on court bail for an undisclosed offence and was involved with the probation service. He also had a history of violent offences and served a custodial sentence in Holme House, a category B prison in Stockton-on-Tees.
Yesterday an armed police operation swung into action but the suspect remained at large despite a hunt involving 100 officers, the detective added.
He told a press conference at Cleveland Police HQ: "This will remain a 24/7 operation – a manhunt – until the whereabouts of James Allen are known and he is brought into custody."
Detectives are seeking to trace Mr Allen's black bike that was seen at both murder scenes, which Mr Allen may have used to cycle the 30 miles from Middlesbrough to Whitby and may still be using.
Mr Allen is described as clearly dangerous but has no history of sexual offences and a sex attack on Mrs Davison has been ruled out.