Specialist police officers have joined the search for a “dangerous” Scottish man who is being hunted over the murder of a woman in Somerset.
Richard Scatchard, a convicted sex offender, is wanted for questioning over the killing of Kelly Faiers in Minehead, during the early hours of Sunday, October 15.
The last confirmed sighting of the 70-year-old was the day after on Swain Street in Watchet and later outside his home in Minehead.
The 61-year-old woman, who police say was in a relationship with Scatchard, was found dead at his home.
Scatchard is a prolific user of dating apps and a number of years ago was convicted of sexual offences in which he administered drugs to his victims to enable his crimes.
Police believe he is a risk to the public, in particular women that he forms relationships with.
Despite approximately 100 reported sightings, none have been confirmed as Scatchard.
Avon and Somerset Police said that since Scatchard’s disappearance, there have been more than 300 enquiries, including witness interviews and obtaining CCTV.
Superintendent Lisa Simpson said: “It has been three months since we last had a confirmed sighting of Richard Scatchard.
“Our priority remains to find Scatchard alive and arrest him and any public information to help us achieve that aim will be gladly received. We wish to question Scatchard about what happened to Kelly in the hours leading up to her death, information we desperately want to be able to give her family.
“We have spoken with both Kelly’s family and Scatchard’s and been honest with them that there have been three months without proof of him being alive and that is an extremely long time.
“While these searches are partly being carried out with that in mind, we remain open minded that Scatchard may well still be alive and do not give up hope someone can provide crucial information that leads to his arrest.”
Events of October 14-16
Police say they know Ms Faiers and Scatchard, who were in a relationship, went out to The Duke of Wellington pub, in Minehead, on the evening of Saturday, October 14. CCTV shows them having a drink together.
In the early hours of the following morning, Scatchard called the ambulance service to his home, in Blenheim Road, due to Ms Faiers being critically ill. She was pronounced dead by medics at the scene.
Police were called minutes later by the ambulance service at 4.15am, as is normal procedure following a unexpected sudden death. Officers spoke with Scatchard before leaving the scene.
On the afternoon of Monday, October 16, officers wished to ask Scatchard further questions and again attended his home address, where his property was found to be empty.
A forensic, post-mortem examination to determine the cause of Ms Faiers’ death was inconclusive but it is currently being treated as suspicious while detectives await the results of further tests.
Search for Scatchard
Scatchard was initially considered to be missing before new information led the police to issuing a wanted appeal for him.
Officers believe Scatchard spent the night after Ms Faiers’ death – October 15-16 – in the Watchet area, which he used to regularly visit. CCTV captured at about 9am on Monday, October 16, shows Scatchard in the Swain Street area of Watchet. This is the last confirmed sighting on CCTV of Scatchard.
One person, who knew Scatchard, has since told police they saw him later that same morning wearing light-coloured shorts when they were driving along Blenheim Road in Minehead.
A short clip of CCTV footage has recently been found showing a man riding a bike in North Road, Minehead, and turning left onto The Avenue. Police believe the footage was taken at around 10.15am on Monday, October 16.
This footage was discovered during a review of CCTV shortly before Christmas. Efforts have been made to find further images which can help detectives confirm who the cyclist is but the identity of the man riding the bike remains unconfirmed.
Superintendent Simpson said: “The clothing worn by the cyclist, especially the black trainers with a blue heel, bears a strong resemblance to what Scatchard was seen wearing on CCTV in the proceeding hours. We therefore believe there is a strong chance the man in the photo is Scatchard and shows a bike, with silver handlebars, that he may have used.
“We’d be particularly keen to hear from anyone who has seen a similar bike to that pictured, or alternatively believes they are the cyclist shown so we can eliminate that potential evidence from our enquiries if not relevant.”
Searches have expanded in recent days with police using specialist officers, including a rope access team and police dogs around Minehead and West Somerset.
Superintendent Simpson said searches have been made from the land and the air.
She added: “These have been supplemented by a large number of enquiries – including reviewing CCTV, distributing wanted posters, media appeals and following up on potential sightings reported by the public. Sadly, these have failed to provide any certainty as to Scatchard’s whereabouts but we still want people to call us immediately should they see him.
“Therefore, we have worked with expert teams to plan a series of key searches over the coming weeks. These will be concentrating on a mix of previously covered areas, plus some more remote parts where access would be difficult or impossible without specialist training and equipment.
“We are conscious that after three months, no confirmed sightings or proof of life that crucial clues as to what has happened to Scatchard may be found in a more inaccessible location, especially if he has come to harm, which a member of the public or previous searches would not ordinarily come across.
“Ultimately, we hope to find Scatchard alive so we can question him, and continue to urge the public to contact us if they see him.”
Faiers family ‘angry and let down’ at police
The family of Ms Faiers have said they feel “angry and let down” that police did not properly question Scatchard immediately after the 61-year-old’s death.
They say there have been “big mistakes from the get-go” of the investigation.
Avon and Somerset Police said it received a complaint from the family and has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The National Crime Agency is supporting Avon and Somerset Police’s efforts to locate Scatchard. It has provided specialist advice to help the force develop its continuing search plans in a bid to find him.
Enquiries into Ms Faiers’ death are being led by the Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT).
Senior investigating officer detective superintendent Gary Haskins said: “The forensic post-mortem examination carried out shortly after Kelly’s death proved inconclusive.
“The circumstances behind Kelly’s death are still unclear despite further test results, but it continues to be treated as suspicious. We still wish to speak to Scatchard to see if he can help us progress our enquiries.
“We desperately want to provide Kelly’s family with the answers they deserve as soon as we can.”
Det Supt Haskins continued: “The other equally important focus we have, which we particularly want the public’s help with, is the search for Scatchard.
“We are hugely appreciative of everyone who has sought to help our enquiries, from people calling in with information to locals putting in their business windows the wanted posters the Minehead neighbourhood team has distributed.
“We have also had constructive conversations with the National Crime Agency who are providing us support with these searches, for which we are grateful.
“Ultimately, the best chance of us apprehending Scatchard is by a member of the public calling in with key information about his whereabouts. This may be through a chance sighting or even someone who has previously been reluctant to come forward – either way we’d please encourage those people to call 999.
“And if Scatchard sees this appeal, we’d urge him to do the right thing and to hand himself in.”
How can you help?
Scatchard is described as being white, about 5ft 11ins, of average build with short grey hair. He speaks with a Scottish accent and has previously claimed to be called Richard Dunlop.
If you see Scatchard, police say you should not approach him, instead phone 999 and provide the call handler with the reference 5223259285.
If you know where he may be, you can call 101 and give the call handler the same reference number, or complete Avon and Somerset Police’s online appeals form.
Crimestoppers has added Scatchard to its most wanted list and is offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information it exclusively receives.
The charity can be contacted anonymously online and on 0800 555111.
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