Man murdered in woodland attack

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POLICE were yesterday hunting three young men after a nature lover who had gone out after dark to feed foxes in a local wood was beaten and stabbed to death.

Robert Wignall, 55, was attacked by the men in woods near his home at Addlestone, Surrey. His wife, Sandra, witnessed the attack, but escaped by hiding in undergrowth.

Mr Wignall, a painter and decorator, had gone with his wife to the copse, where they regularly put food down for foxes. Both walked their dogs in the area, which was a few yards from their home.

Police said the couple were approached by three young men who asked if they had seen a Boxer puppy they were looking for. They then set upon Mr Wignall.

Mrs Wignall ran off and hid in undergrowth. When she returned several minutes later she found her husband lying in a pool of blood. He had been battered with a blunt instrument and stabbed. Mrs Wignall was yesterday being comforted by relatives.

Det Supt Pat Crossan, who is leading the murder hunt, appealed for help from the public. 'This was an unprovoked, brutal and vicious attack,' he said.

Neighbours said the couple had met walking their dogs in the woods. 'They were always together in the woods with their dogs. They were well known and well liked,' one said.

The attackers were described as in their late teens or early twenties. One wore a baseball cap, a second wore a tracksuit top or sweatshirt and the third was in dark clothing. Police will resume their search today for the murder weapon and they hope to interview Mrs Wignall again to build up a fuller description.

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