Men Face Trial Over Dorset Businessman's Murder

A murder trial's expected to start in November, for three men accused of killing Guy Hedger near Ringwood.

The businessman, 61, was shot dead during a burglary at his home in Castlewood in April.

Dorset Police received a call just after 3am reporting Mr Hedger had been shot with a shotgun. He was later pronounced dead shortly after arriving at hospital.

A number of items were also reportedly taken during the incident, some of them with significant sentimental value.

At Winchester Crown Court, Jason Baccus, 41, and Scott Keeping, 44, both of Verney Close, Bournemouth, and Kevin Downton, 40, of Winterborne Stickland, near Blandford, appeared charged with murder.

The three men are also charged with aggravated burglary, possession of a firearm and two counts of burglary allegedly committed on the same night Mr Hedger was shot.

No pleas were entered and a further plea hearing was set for 8 September ahead of a provisional trial starting on 14 November in front of Mr Justice Popplewell.

A woman re-arrested in connection with the murder investigation has now been charged with assisting an offender.

Helen Cooper, also known as Helen Keeping, had previously been arrested on Tuesday 2 May on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and had been released under investigation.

She is due to appear at Poole Magistrates' Court today.

A 39-year-old Bournemouth man and 45-year-old Poole man previously arrested in relation to the incident were released under investigation.

Crimestoppers is now offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information that leads to the recovery of the firearm and jewellery reportedly stolen during the incident.

The charity is offering the money to find the shotgun used, along with stolen diamond rings and a Cartier watch (above).

Roger Critchell, Director of Operations for Crimestoppers, said: 

"This incident has seen an innocent man lose his life in the one place he should feel safe and secure, his home.

"The weapon reportedly used is still out there and I am asking local people to give anonymous information to our charity that leads to its recovery, along with the sentimental items Guy's family have reportedly had taken. Your identity will never be revealed, because we never ask who you are."

Guy's husband Simon-Pierre Hedger-Cooper said: 

"Many of the items taken from our home hold great sentimental value and are very important to me. I am grateful to Crimestoppers for issuing this reward for the safe return of these items. Those of particular importance are our diamond wedding rings, an emerald and diamond ring and a diamond Cartier watch, which were anniversary presents, and a black onyx ring, which was given to me by my mother."

If you have any information, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through our Anonymous Online Form at

After his death, Mr Hedger's family paid tribute to him. In a statement, they said: 

``Guy was a caring and compassionate partner, son, brother and uncle who lived life to its full and enriched the lives of all those who knew him.

``We are devastated that Guy's life has been cut short in this way.

``Guy will be sorely missed by family, friends and colleagues, but he will live in our hearts forever.''

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