1 March 2018

Stephen Spence recently concluded the trial at Nottingham Crown Court of an ex-soldier charged with murdering an elderly dog walker. Alexander Palmer, 24, attacked 83 year old Peter Wrighton from behind with a knife before hiding his body in woodland near the village of East Harling, Norfolk last August. The wounds were so severe that police initially suspected an animal attack. Stephen Spence told the Court that Mr Wrighton was stabbed “repeatedly to the back of his head and neck and finally through his left eye”, in an attack which left his head “almost severed from his body”. As well as the fatal wound to his neck Mr Wrighton’s injuries included cuts to his hands, which suggested he had tried to defend himself.

Speaking of the victim's injuries, Mr Spence added: "Initial observation of Mr Wrighton's body led the police to jump to the conclusion that he had been attacked and killed by some sort of animal, such was the extent and appearance of the injuries to the throat".

Mr Palmer told doctors a voice named “Little Alex” had told him to stab the necks or throats of strangers. Palmer, of Bawdeswell, Norfolk, admitted being in the area at the time of the offence, but denied a singular charge of murder. The jury took just 49 minutes to deliver a guilty verdict. Detective Supt Marina Ericson, who led the inquiry, said: "I believe Palmer to be callous and extremely calculated in his approach to Peter's death. Officers first on the scene described the incident as an animal attack and I think that description is still accurate. Palmer is a dangerous individual who was truly animalistic in his actions."

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