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24 May 2011, 10:42
A 50-year-old man who shot his girlfriend in the bath and then put her body in a freezer has today been told He'll serve life in prison, with a minimum of 26 years.
Michael Tucker and his girlfriend, 28-year-old Rebecca Thorpe, were the landlords of The Compasses Inn on Lynn Road in Snettisham in Norfolk.
On Tuesday 23rd March, an off duty police officer who was passing the pub was called into the premises after being told that a body had allegedly been found in a freezer. In a rear shed a body was found.
Tucker later claimed that on Tuesday 9th March 2010, he had shot Rebecca whilst she lay in the bath. He then left her in the bath for two days before transferring her to a chest freezer located in a shed in the grounds of the pub.
During a search of The Compasses Inn by forensic officers, a shotgun was discovered which was covered in tape identical to that used to wrap Rebecca’s body and traces of blood and signs of extensive cleaning were revealed after a thorough search of the bathroom.
Tucker appeared to try and continue living a normal life, running the business and employing staff before fleeing to the Isle of Wight where he was arrested for murder on 23 March 2010.
Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry, Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, who led the enquiry, commented on the conviction saying:
We welcome the guilty verdict for murder and feel that the facts of the case show clearly that Tucker knew what he was doing and carried out a deliberate act.
This was obviously a tragic loss for Rebecca’s family and our thoughts are with them at this time. It is important to remember that this event was also a real shock to the local community who are not used to such horrific incidents."
DCI Fry added: "The investigation was a complex one and was further complicated by two matters. Firstly, Tucker had fled the scene and though contact was made with him through a friend, he was claiming to be in Kent when he was actually traced to the Isle of Wight. The second issue was the large amount of misinformation and speculation which was shared on social networking sites and then repeated in other media. This made it difficult to establish whether potential witnesses had read details somewhere or knew them as fact. It also led to rumours which increased the concerns of the local community."
Michael Tucker will now be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court tomorrow morning.
Police have also released a timeline of events of what happened in 2010:
March 9-11: Rebecca Thorpe is murdered by Michael Tucker
March 10: Last confirmed sighting of Rebecca
March 13: Tucker employs two new barmen at The Compasses Inn. Rebecca fails to turn up to a hockey match
March 20: The Compasses Inn is left closed and Tucker leaves for Hampshire before travelling to the Isle of Wight
March 22: Tucker instructs one of his new employees by text and phone calls to contact police and get officers to call him
March 23: Friend receives text message from Tucker stating he had killed Rebecca and that her body was in the freezer.
Off-duty police officer discovers Rebecca’s body in a freezer in an outbuilding at the back of the pub shortly before 1pm
Tucker is arrested on the Isle of Wight at 10.30pm
March 25: Initial examinations by forensic officers indicate facial and head injuries to Rebecca’s body
March 26: Police interview Tucker where he admits to shooting Rebecca on March 9th in the bath before moving her body into the freezer two days later. Tucker is charged with Rebecca’s murder at 10pm.
April 1: Body formally identified as Rebecca Thorpe
Rebecca's family have released the following statement:
Rebecca (Becky) was a bubbly sporty young woman whose life was callously and clinically taken from us. No amount of punishment will bring our daughter and sister back, but the memories and comfort we receive from the local people, clubs and charities that Becky had become involved with, have and will continue to help, bring us to terms with our loss.
Though now at rest Becky’s name and memory will continue with charitable events organised in her name.
We would like to thank the legal teams and jurors for ensuring that Mr Tucker received the sentence that he deserved, despite his feeble attempts to escape the full responsibility for his actions.