The case of Tony Martin, the farmer found guilty of murdering a teenage burglar, has focused such attention on Norfolk crime that house sales are suffering, an estate agent claimed yesterday.
Paul Skoulding, a county councillor who is also an estate agent in the nearby Cambridgeshire town of Wisbech, said one couple who were only days away from buying a cottage a few miles from Martin's Emneth Hungate home pulled out within a week of the case.
"On the Monday morning after the Martin case, they called to say they had been really worrying about it, agonising all weekend. The price had been agreed but they did not want to go ahead," he said.
Allyson Best, Mr Skoulding's partner at Fenland Estate Agents, agreed. "The impression is there's just one policeman to cover a huge area," she said. "Two of our sales have fallen through from people who were moving to the area. One was planning to come from Bradford and the other from Potters Bar. We've had other potential buyers saying they are worried about what seems to be happening here."
The State of the Countryside report revealed recently that rural crime was rising faster than in cities. But absolute risks of crime in rural districts was, in most respects, lower than urban areas.
Martin was jailed for life for murder and wounding. Last night Cambridgeshire police said additional officers would be posted to Wisbech on Saturday. The National Front has applied for permission to march in three areas of East Anglia, including the town near Martin's home, and Norwich, where he was tried.
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