Two held in pensioner murder investigation

Police hunting the killer of a 77-year-old woman whose battered body was found by officers returning her stolen handbag have arrested a man and a woman.

Judith Richardson, of Hexham, Northumberland, died from head injuries after what police said was "a brutal attack on an innocent elderly lady".

Officers discovered her in the hallway of her stone-built terraced home in St Wilfrid's Road after her handbag and some of its contents were found stuffed into a litter bin in Newcastle city centre, 25 miles away.

Northumbria Police said the man and woman were arrested in the Hexham area yesterday and are continuing to help police with their inquiries.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Young appealed to anyone who may know the offenders to come forward.

"We ask you to use your conscience and please come forward to police or anonymously to Crimestoppers with any information," he said.

"I can't stress enough how this has been a brutal attack on an innocent elderly lady who was dearly loved by her family and well-known in the Hexham community.

"We are working tirelessly to seek justice for Judith and her family."

Mr Young added: "Anyone who may have been around St Wilfrid's Road on Friday at any point and witnessed any unusual behaviour is asked to come forward.

"We are still keen to establish how a bag believed to have been taken from Miss Richardson's property was found in a bin outside a charity shop on Clayton Street, Newcastle, on Friday afternoon.

"Anyone who used any public transport from Hexham to Newcastle on Friday and may have seen anything suspicious, please do contact us."

Mr Young said officers now believe the bag may have been left in the bin between 1pm and 4.30pm.

Specialist dogs have been brought in to help trace any evidence which may help the investigation.

Miss Richardson, who lived alone and never married, was regularly seen in Hexham walking her dog.

Her family released a statement which said: "This has been a devastating loss and we are all in a state of shock. Judith was a wonderful person and we all loved her dearly.

"We hope that anyone who can will help police with their inquiries.

"We thank everyone for their condolences and ask that others can respect the privacy of our family at this extremely difficult time."

PA

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