Doctor detained after car chase in France: British police to question doctor detained after car chase. David Connett reports

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH doctor wanted for questioning about the murder of his daughter was being held in custody in France last night after a dramatic car and helicopter chase lasting four hours.

Two detectives from Thames Valley police immediately flew out to interview Patrick Alesworth, whose 20-year-old daughter, Sarah, was found murdered at the family home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, on Wednesday.

Dr Alesworth, 48, was arrested by French police after a car chase during which he is alleged to have smashed through a roadblock, almost running down an official, and attempted to hijack a second car at knifepoint.

A national hunt for the doctor was launched after his daughter's body was found by her mother, Mrs Jane Alesworth, in a pool of blood in her bedroom at their detached house on Wednesday afternoon.

The hunt switched to France after the doctor's white Volvo estate car was spotted on a ferry between Portsmouth and St Malo by a fellow passenger.

French authorities waiting as the ferry docked at St Malo failed to detain him after he sped through a police checkpoint forcing one officer to jump out of the way. They scrambled a helicopter and followed him through the Brittany countryside before arresting him in the town of Ploubalay, south-west of St Malo, four hours later.

A spokesman for the French authorities said: 'He drove past police and was chased for about 20kms (12 miles). He was arrested outside St Malo and is being held until the British authorities arrive.'

French police said at one point he tried unsuccesfully to hijack another car at knifepoint.

Mrs Alesworth discovered her daughter's body after returning to the house and having what police described as an 'altercation' with her husband before he left in his car.

Police said afterwards there was evidence of attempts to set fire to the house. Neighbours said gas taps had also been left on.

Detectives believe Sarah, whom they described as a lively and intelligent girl who was studying catering at Bournemouth University, was bludgeoned to death with a heavy object, but no weapon has been found.

Chief Inspector John Reeve said Dr Alesworth, a GP for more than 18 years, is reported to have left the house in a blood-stained condition.

He said: 'Clearly something has gone drastically wrong for him to do this. What that is we do not know. He left the house very briskly and just pushed past his wife as he got into the car and then drove off.'

Mr Reeve refused to disclose details of the conversation between Dr Alesworth and his wife as he was leaving the house but said Mrs Alesworth went straight upstairs where she found Sarah's body.

Sarah was one of three girls. Her mother and a 16-year-old daughter, Kathleen, were staying with friends last night. The eldest daughter, Emma, 21, a student at Liverpool University, is believed to have joined them from a holiday in Ireland.

At a news conference at the doctor's former practice on the Elmhurst Estate in Aylesbury, his one- time colleague, Dr Jill Beck, spoke of his devotion to the medical profession.

She declined to say why Dr Alesworth resigned as a full-time GP in November last year, but said he and all his colleagues in the NHS were under stress.

Paying tribute to his work at the practice, she added: 'He was a lovely man.

'He's a very caring GP who has built up a great relationship with his patients over the years. His former patients are very distressed,' she said.

A counselling service was set up for the doctor's former patients and colleagues as they struggled to come to terms with the news.

(Photograph omitted)