Woman, 81, arrested over death of husband

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An elderly woman who made an emotional public appeal for information into the murder of her husband was arrested yesterday in connection with his death.

Audrey Hingston, 81, was detained after a five-week investigation into the death of her husband, Eric, 83, who was found stabbed at the couple's home in Plympton, Devon.

Police initially described his death as "the most serious type of murder", which was believed to be the result of an opportunistic burglary.

Yesterday, however, a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police confirmed that a woman had been arrested in connection with the murder. "Detectives investigating the murder of Eric Hingston arrested an 81-year-old Plympton woman," he said. "She has been taken for questioning to a special detention facility set up in Plymouth."

When a murder inquiry began after his death on 29 August, police described how two men were thought to have broken into the flat at night. Mr Hingston was sleeping alone in the bedroom as he was recovering from a hip operation and had left the window open to ease his asthma.

It was believed that Mr Hingston received a single stab wound to the shoulder after confronting two men who climbed through the window.

Mrs Hingston reportedly told police that she was sleeping in another room when she was alerted by a scuffle and found her husband dying on the bedroom floor.

Mr Hingston, a former Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, was taken to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, but pronounced dead upon arrival.

Three days later, his widow made an emotional appearance at a press conference in Plymouth as part of a nationwide appeal for information into the murder. Leaning heavily on her stepson Peter Hume, she broke down in tears as she said: "My husband Eric did not deserve this. As a frail man, any resistance he put up could easily have been overcome by these two young men. There was no need for them to go to the lengths they did."

The Crimestoppers charity offered the maximum national reward of £10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

At the time, Detective Chief Inspector Tony Carney, heading the investigation, revealed that a knife had been found and sent for forensic analysis.

"This is a disgraceful and tragic case," he said. "It's the worst I've seen in 29 years' service. They had been enjoying their retirement.

"We are told Mr Hingston would not have thought twice about having a go at his attackers, but he was very frail and would have posed no threat."

Police revealed how one of the intruders was believed to have been wearing a deerstalker hat and the second man "tea cosy" style headgear.

The couple lived in a flat above a butcher's shop which they had run for many years, before retiring and passing the business on to their son.