Bodies in car are linked to letter-bomb killing

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It looked like a straightforward double suicide, a young couple found in their fume-filled car with a pipe leading from the exhaust.

It looked like a straightforward double suicide, a young couple found in their fume-filled car with a pipe leading from the exhaust.

But detectives are now linking the deaths of David Broddle and Lorraine Richardson to the letter-bomb killing of Stephen Hoggarth, aged 32, last weekend at his home in Louth, Lincolnshire. That in turn appears to have been the result of a feud which began when Mr Broddle was attacked by Mr Hoggarth during a Christmas party on 12 December 1997.

Mr Hoggarth, who was convicted of assault and ordered to do 40 hours community service, was killed on 11 December. Police interviewed Mr Broddle last week but said: "We have been to see him and he has been very co-operative.He will play no further part in our investigation at this stage."

The bodies of Mr Broddle and Ms Richardson were discovered on Saturday morning at Monsal Head, near Bakewell in Derbyshire, by a man walking his dog. Two notes were found in the vehicle and police said there were no suspicious circumstances. They would not confirm or deny whether the notes mention the letter-bomb attack but Army bomb disposal experts were sent in to search the couple's house in Horncastle, Lincolnshire.

Eight families were moved from their homes and a cordon put in place while the property was searched. Residents said the police had told them of fears that bomb-making equipment was in the house. Linda Patrick, 44, said: "We were woken by police officers at about 9am and told to leave the area. We only had time to grab our coats before we had to get out." Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Cook, of Lincolnshire Police, said: "The circumstances of the murder investigation involved the sending of an explosive device and because of the known connection between David Broddle and Stephen Hoggarth it was necessary to ensure the premises were safe to enter for the forensic investigators and the scenes of crimes officers."

One neighbour, Samantha Bryant, 26, said Mr Broddle worked at a local plastics factor."He didn't really talk to anyone at work and was out the door as soon as his shift ended. He was very interested in electronics and computers and was always making things. The couple had a computer in their front room and we would often see him using the Internet for hours on end."

Damian Patrick, 23, said: "The police visited the couple's home and a few of us wondered if it was anything to do with the letter-bomb incident in Louth. We knew the couple came from Louth so we kind of put two and two together."

Detectives had been working on the theory that Mr Hoggarth had been murdered by someone with a grudge against him, and had questioned Mr Broddle about their drunken brawl. The pair - who were colleagues - had been at a Christmas party at the Linpac social club in Louth, when they came to blows. Mr Hoggarth had said to Mr Broddle "What's up with you, space cadet?" before punching him at least six times.

Mr Hoggarth, who lost his job as a laboratory technician as a result of the attack, was killed two years after the fight. His son Callum was left with his father's body for almost two hours before help arrived.