We will find killer of Forest of Dean housewife

Kate Prout

We will find killer of Forest of Dean housewife
Western Daily Press
3 November 2008

Almost a year after Gloucestershire housewife Kate Prout was murdered, police have announced they are still "very confident" of catching her killer, despite having never located her body.

Leading officers from other forces have been brought in to advise Gloucestershire Constabulary on how to manage a success- ful no-body murder case, it has emerged.

Mrs Prout, 55, vanished from her 200-acre farm in Redmarley, in the Forest of Dean, on Bonfire Night, 2007.

After her disappearance, 50 police conducted a search of her 200-acre farm and surrounding woodland.

Officers emptied a grain store, went through a pile of bark chippings and dived in ponds and a reservoir.

Even Eddie, the sniffer dog which took part in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann, failed to find any trace.  

[Blogger note: Eddie found cadaver scent in Prout home. In November 2011, Adrian Prout confessed to murdering Kate.]

But even though the search failed to find a body, detectives were convinced she was dead, because she disappeared without saying where she was going, without taking her phone or any money, and without touching her clothes.

Almost 12 months on, there is still no body, no conviction and no conclusive evidence to prove what happened to her.

But officers remain convinced they know who did it and are working on a way to get a prosecution.

Detective Superintendent Neil Kelly said: "There was no motive for her to disappear. The only reasonable conclusion is that she is no longer alive."

Now the reduced team of 15 dedicated staff working on the case are looking at proving the case is murder even without the body.

Det Sup Kelly said: "From my point of view, I have been happy that this has been a murder from a very early stage."

Conviction rates in these kinds of cases are few and far between.

Leading officers from other forces have been drafted into Gloucestershire Constabulary's HQ to advise county investiga- tors on what they can do.

"We have had the benefit of sharing the details of our inquiry with other officers and getting feedback with regards to the investigation," Det Sup Kelly said.

"We have discussed how other forces were successful and discussed the particular difficulties and issues of other cases.

"We have done extensive searches and taken forensic examinations collecting 1,300 exhibits and 1,000 witness statements.

"There will also be a number of other areas we will be pursuing in the coming months."

As tough as it may be to convict a killer without a body, it can be done.

Chief Inspector Paul Burgan, from Devon and Cornwall Police, worked for 12 months on the murder of 16-year-old Charlotte Pinkney back in 2004 whose body was never recovered.

Without that final missing piece in an investigation, two things have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Firstly that the person is dead and secondly they have been murdered by the accused.

But, unlike a standard murder case, the prosecution does not have to prove how the victim was killed.

Chief Insp Burgan said: "It sounds obvious in some ways, but what is the crucial point in a case like this is proving beyond all reasonable doubt that the person is dead.

"In our case it was Charlotte's birthday. She made no contact with her family and that was a clear marker something was wrong."

Det Sup Kelly said they had no intention of stopping their investigation.

He said: "I am very confident we are going to be able to get a successful conclusion. We have no intention of giving up."

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