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Retired detective wins award for helping solve murder case

Brian Watts and Chief Constable John Robins.

A retired detective from Avon and Somerset who helped crack a 1994 Bradford murder has been recognised with a prestigious Chief Constable’s Award.

Amy Shepherd was strangled and murdered at her sheltered accommodation in Folly Hall Gardens in Wibsey in 1994.

Despite extensive enquiries, the murder of the 86-year-old remained un-detected but in 2018 cold case detectives from West Yorkshire Police took another look.

Advances in DNA profiling since the murder helped detectives to identify a suspect but they could find no other evidence to strengthen their case.

Enquiries led them to the Avon and Somerset as they tried to trace a retired officer who it was thought could assist.

They knew a DC 488 Watts had been the officer in the case for a crime which made the pages of the Western Gazette in April 1977 when a 77-year-old lady was robbed.

The victim had been attacked in her house in Somerton and left with a fractured jaw and other facial injuries and cash and other property was taken.

They knew they needed to trace ‘DC Watts’ but knew nothing more about them – even if the retired officer was a man or woman.

And the appeal worked with the former DC 488 Brian Watts coming forward. He remembered the case well.

He then helped in the case against the suspect – Raymond Kay – by providing evidence used in the trial about how the assault in 1977 was very similar to the assault on Amy.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Twiggs (Protective Services, Crime), said: “It was clear from the outset that Brian was more than willing to help in the case and to attend Bradford Crown Court to give his evidence if required [in the end Brian wasn’t required to attend court].

“There is no doubt that Brian’s evidence helped bring Kay to justice – it was very impactive.

“The greatest possible tribute I can pay to Brian is that on Tuesday 21 May, Kay, 71, previously of Baker Fold, Halifax was found guilty of the murder of Amy Shepherd and sentenced to life imprisonment, finally giving closure to Amy’s family.”

The citation for Brian read:

‘In recognition of your commitment and dedication to Policing. Over 30 years after your retirement, you assisted West Yorkshire Police officers during investigations. The vital historical evidence you provided, led to the conviction and imprisonment of Raymond Kay, for the Murder of Amy Shepherd.’

Brian received his award on 6 November, 2019.