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29 July 2010, 13:25
Police have finished searching a property where serial killer Peter Tobin used to live and say it's not linked to any crimes.
Police search teams, scenes of crimes officers and forensic archaeologists have spent 15 days excavating the large rear garden and forensically exploring the basement areas of the property.
Tobin, 63, is in jail for murdering three women, the bodies of two were found buried in the garden of a house in Margate in 2007.
A similar police search at 67 Station Road, Portslade drew to a close last week after nine days of excavations which also ruled out any criminality linked to Peter Tobin.
Operation Anagram, the national scoping exercise being conducted by police forces across the UK, was set up to identify issues of concern in relation to Tobin that require further police work. Despite his failing to engage with police, Operation Anagram continues to meticulously examine the life of Peter Tobin through the excellent information received from the public which is allowing the investigation team to piece together the complex life of the serial killer who travelled the UK using a variety of aliases and vehicles.
DCI Nick Sloan of Sussex Police’s Major Crime Branch said: “As a result of work conducted under Operation Anagram, two addresses in Brighton & Hove were identified as there being enough intelligence to warrant searches of the back gardens and some interior spaces of the buildings.
“We have a duty to fully investigate any allegations of criminality and teams of specialists and experts undertook these complex searches. I am completely satisfied that we have conducted thorough and meticulous searches and that both addresses are unconnected to any criminality linked to Peter Tobin.”
Prior to starting work at any the premises, photographs and video footage were taken of the gardens and interiors to show how the properties looked before police started their searches to prevent any potential disagreement at a later date. The home owners / business owners were asked to agree any identified damage already in existence prior to the search and were advised that the premises would be returned to the original state (in the case of plants or trees destroyed that they would be replaced but couldn’t guarantee that they would be exactly the same size).
DCI Sloan added: “Commencing the search at both addresses on 12th July, we used ground penetrating radar to map out any unusual fluctuations in the ground within the garden and the property itself. Areas which necessitated further exploration were excavated and tonnes of earth and concrete have been analysed, sifted and metal-detected by Sussex Police search teams and archaeologist experts from University College London. Literally, no stone was left unturned.”
As part of the investigation, officers from Sussex Police’s Specialist Search Unit excavated two wells, one at each location. Using confined space harnesses, it took the team a day to remove earth and rubble from each well, digging to a depth of 10 feet whilst working in precarious conditions. A Victorian soak-away was also discovered in the basement of Station Road and confined space harnesses were used to allow an officer to gain access into small pockets of space underneath the cellar at Marine Parade which had been boarded up.
Once the searches were completed, a surveyor attended the property with the Deputy Senior Investigating Officer and owner and all of the damage was inspected and agreed what needed to be done to replace, repair and make good. Contractors are employed, materials obtained and a start date arranged with the owners to ensure the work is carried out as soon as possible.
Once the work has been done, there will be a further inspection to ensure that it has been carried out to a satisfactory standard. The surveyor and contractors are sub contractors for Sussex Police and this ensures that the costs are kept to a minimum.
DCI Nick Sloan added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Essential Hair and Beauty, Scizzor Sisters Barber Shop and the residents at 67 Station Road, Portslade, Brighton Housing Trust and the residents at 152-154 Marine Parade, Brighton. They have all been incredibly patient in light of the disruption caused by the police activity and the inevitable large media presence.
“I would also like to thank the wider communities who may have been temporarily inconvenienced by the police search. We made every effort to minimise disruption and appointed resident and community liaison officers for each address, offering regular updates and street briefings to keep those affected informed and to ensure that they could go about their day-to-day business as unhindered as possible. I know that the majority have supported and understood our work here in the last few days.
Nikki Homewood, Director of Homelessness & Complex Needs Services at Brighton Housing Trust said: "During the last two and a half weeks, we have worked closely with Sussex Police to assist them all we could during this sensitive operation. Police have ensured that they have given the Trust and all the residents support and have also taken into consideration their day-to-day needs which have been affected by the work. We'd like to thank the liaison officers for their continued support, keeping us informed and up-to-date as the operation progressed. The process in place made it much the more bearable under such a high profile spotlight."
DCI Nick Sloan concluded: “We are still receiving calls from members of public who have contacted Sussex Police or the Operation Anagram team with information. All calls received are being worked through by the Major Crime Branch. Anyone with information can still contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 quoting serial number 622 of 9th July. If they are outside Sussex, they can contact their local police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”