/First photo of pensioner beaten to death with walking stick in double murder

First photo of pensioner beaten to death with walking stick in double murder

This is the first picture of a pensioner allegedly beaten to death with her own walking stick during an alleged double murder.

Sandy Seagrave, who also used the surname Prince, has been named locally by neighbours as one of the two victims killed in Crawley Down, West Sussex, on Sunday.

The 76-year-old widow, who “had a heart of gold”, lived a short walk from the crime scene when she was attacked, with some neighbours saying she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

It is claimed a man yelled “I’m going to kill you” before Mrs Seagrave was battered to death with her walking stick as she bravely attempted to help the another victim.

A 32-year-old woman also died in the incident.

A 37-year-old man, who was found seriously injured inside a house, is under arrest on suspicion of murder and is in a “very unstable condition” in hospital.

Sandra Seagrave, known as Sandy, had a “heart of gold”

He is said to be an ex-partner of one of the women.

Mrs Seagrave is believed to have been attacked as she walked past the scene, which remains cordoned off with forensics tents outside.

Earlier reports suggested the two women were mother and daughter, but it has since emerged they did not know each other.

A horrified neighbour said: “The elderly woman was walking past and he killed her with her walking stick.

“She was just walking past at the time and saw what was happening and tried to intervene.”

Mrs Seagrave’s heartbroken brother Dan Peckett, 84, said outside her house today: “I’m going to miss her so much. I adored her.

“I kept in touch with her all the time on the phone.”

Mr Peckett, of the nearby village of Copthorne, added: “It’s a big shock at the moment.

“I found out what happened on the telly.

Neighbours have spoken of their shock
(Image: PA)

“I haven’t been told anything yet.

“The police have told me to go home and they’ll speak to me later.”

Local Tony Jones, 74, also paid tribute to Mrs Seagrave.

The grandfather said: “Sandy walks around this village everyday and she was attacked.

“She was walking past in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“A young girl saw it happen – she’s traumatised now apparently.

“Sandy was a lovely lady. She wouldn’t have hurt a fly.

“She used to foster dogs and would walk round the area with them. I used to see her around.”

Police forensics officers at the scene in Hazel Way, Crawley Down, West Sussex
(Image: PA)

Neighbours said Mrs Seagrave was twice widowed, did not have any children and lived on her own.

Neighbour Ian Pratt, 61, said it was possible Mrs Seagrave may have been intervening while walking past the horrific incident.

The father-of-two, a stretch ceiling businessman, said: “I only found out last night from my neighbour.

“He came round to ask me if I realised Sandy had been involved. We’re in complete shock.

“I do know she’d been walking around the village everyday because she had a leg injury and had been trying to build up her strength.

“We did think that if she happened to be passing and saw an incident she would challenge them about what they’re doing.

“She was very forthright and could be quite direct. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

“She obviously didn’t realise she was dealing with someone very irrational.

“She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time – unless she knew the people.”

He continued: “Sandy was a great animal lover.

The incident happened on Sunday morning
(Image: PA)

“She used to pay a lot of attention to our dog – her focus tended to be more on animals than people.

“She was very much a community person, big-hearted and caring.

“She was an avid gardener.”

He added: “We were quite concerned initially because we’ve got friends who live in Hazel Way, but they were okay.

“Then we were thinking it was no one we know, and my neighbour came round to tell me.

“It’s so sad.”

Alex Leggat, 85, said he saw Mrs Seagrave at 9.55am – just 20 minutes before she was killed.

The grandfather-of-four did not know if it was Mrs Seagrave who had died, but said: “She was a very pleasant woman. I’ve been here for nearly 20 years and she was here before me.

“I spoke to her yesterday morning at 9.55am.

“She came across the road while I was sorting my bins out and we had a chat. She said ‘you better go put a jacket on’.

“She was the sort of person who would stop and help someone if necessary. She’d talk to anybody.

Two women died in the attack
(Image: PA)

“She was a very friendly, helpful soul, but she lived on her own and felt a bit lonely, because she lost her second husband years ago.

“She had very few family members.

“She used to do a lot of walking but hasn’t recently because she had a terrible back, so she can’t walk very far.

“If it’s her, it’s sad. I’m sorry it’s her.

“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”

Police officers have continued to man the cordon, and flowers can be seen outside a house in Hazel Way – next to where the two forensics tents are.

A statement from Sussex police said: “Detectives are investigating the murder of two women, aged 32 and 76, outside a house in Crawley Down on Sunday morning (December 22).

“A 37-year-old man, who was found seriously injured inside the house in Hazel Way, is under arrest on suspicion of murder.

“He is in a very unstable condition at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.”

A 37-year-old man, who was found seriously injured inside a house, is under arrest on suspicion of murder
(Image: PA)

Detective Chief Inspector Alex Geldart, of Surrey and Sussex major crime team, confirmed one of the victims was known to the suspect.

She said: “This is a tragic incident which has led to the death of two local women, one of whom was known to the suspect.

“Members of the public, police and paramedics did all they could to help the victims but sadly the two women died at the scene.

“I extend my heartfelt sympathies to their families, who are being supported by specialist trained officers. I ask that people respect their privacy at this distressing time.

“Extensive inquiries are taking place along with a forensic examination, and any speculation by the media as to what has happened is unhelpful.

“This was not a knife attack. A cordon will remain in the area while we gather evidence and we appreciate the support and understanding of local residents.”

Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman, West Sussex divisional commander, added: “This is an isolated yet shocking incident that has shaken many in the community.

“We are thankful to them for supporting officers as they go about their inquiries.

“While we are investigating, officers will be available in the area over the next few days to reassure the community and if anyone wants to talk to them about their concerns or if they have any information they should talk with them.”

A message written on a bouquet of flowers at the police cordon, which was guarded by uniformed officers, read: “A terrible tragedy. Rest in peace.”

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Meanwhile, a woman who lives nearby but did not want to give her name said: “We opened the curtains and saw the police cars and could see that something significant had happened.”

The resident, who did not know those who had died, described waking up to the news of the killings as “a pure shock,” adding: “It is the sadness of it all, especially at this time of year.

“You think of the people whose lives are going to be affected. You cannot help them, so you just have a sick feeling.”

A 70-year-old grandmother, who has lived in the area all her life but did not want to be named, said of the elderly lady who died: “It is just so sad. It feels like she was walking in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It has always been a friendly and safe area. I have never felt scared walking out at night.”

Residents near the scene had turned off their Christmas lights last night in tribute to those who had been killed, according to a local homeowner.

She added: “It was all the village lights. It was quite dark and eerie but it was a mark of respect.”

A neighbour of the elderly victim, who did not want to be named, said “we were really shocked” by the killing.

Another neighbour said: “She could be a bit abrupt, but when you got to know her she had a heart of gold. She had a great love of animals.”

Sussex Police said that no formal identification has taken place. 

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