Police plea to gun victim's ex-husband

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The Independent Online
Police yesterday renewed an appeal for the "dangerous"

ex-husband of a woman murdered on Christmas Day to give himself up for questioning, writes Steve Boggan.

Phillip Manning, 41, has been missing since his former wife, Margaret Whitcombe, was shot at her home in Abertillery, Gwent, in front of her 11-year old-son.

Detectives yesterday said Mr Manning was thought to be carrying a 12-inch Bowie knife and they warned the public not to approach him.

Officers have issued his description to all police forces in the country but they said they have no idea where he is, or what he has done with his silver Ford Sierra, registration number A710 XDW.

Mr Manning has been wanted for questioning since the incident early on Christmas Day. A caller is understood to have argued with Ms Whitcombe, 41, and her boyfriend, Neil Jones, 42, in the hallway of their home.

Ms Whitcombe was shot and Mr Jones was stabbed several times in the head. He is under police guard in hospital, where his condition is described as serious but stable.

After speaking to Mr Jones yesterday, Detective Superintendent Ian Johnston, who is leading the hunt from an incident room at Ebbw Vale, said Mr Manning could be "anywhere in the country".

He added: "We are looking for every help from the media and from the public to help us trace him.

"People should not approach him but contact the police if he is seen."

Ms Whitcombe, a mother-of-three, was preparing to celebrate Christmas with Mr Jones, when a man stormed into the house in George Barker Avenue, Abertillery, and shot her.

Her youngest son Daniel,11, who had been awakened by an argument in the hallway, saw the shooting and cradled his mother in his arms as she died.

Mr Jones received horrific stab wounds to the head before the attacker fled.

Supt Johnston said yesterday that Mr Manning had telephoned his mother nearly 12 hours later from Kensington, west London.

"But we have had no trace of him since," he said. "He could be anywhere in the country. There have been no sightings of his vehicle."

Supt Johnston added: "We are continuing our appeal for him to contact any police station."

He said police had now interviewed Mr Jones, who was still being treated in hospital. Although his head injuries are serious they are not considered life threatening.

Police said they now believed that Mr Manning had a 12-inch hunting knife.

The Mannings had two other children, aged 17 and 24. But they were not at home when their mother was murdered.

Police have revealed that Mr Manning was released in October from prison. He was jailed in 1992 for four years for attempting to murder his former wife.

Leading article, page 14

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