Murder detective accused of forging witness statement to get evidence in early

An experienced Hampshire detective forged signatures on a witness statement to get evidence in early during a murder investigation, a court has heard.

After Lucy-Anne Rushton was killed by her husband at her home in Andover, 18 miles west of Basingstoke, in 2019, Det Con Robert Ferrow of Hampshire Constabulary was seconded to the murder inquiry for a single day from his base in Portsmouth, a jury was told.

The 50-year-old officer allegedly signed pages on behalf of a friend of the murder suspect, a charge which he denied at his trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Ms Rushton, 30, was killed by her estranged husband Shaun Dyson in June 2019, who was later jailed for life with a minimum of 17 years after pleading guilty to murder.

Robert Bryan, prosecuting Det Con Ferrow, said the detective took a statement from Ashley Grace-O'Neill, who had spoken with the defendant on the phone, as well as via text message, the same day.

In what the court heard the officer called a "judgement call to get evidence in ready for the interview team the following day," he and the witness allegedly agreed the Mr Grace-O'Neill could sign blank pages so that transcripts of the text messages could be filled in later.

Mr Bryan said that the witness later denied that some of the signatures were done by him.

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A forensic handwriting expert corroborated this claim, concluding that it was unlikely that Mr Grace-O'Neil had signed seven pages of his 23-page statement.

Mr Grace-O'Neill said he texted the defendant on the day of the murder in a bid to persuade him to hand himself into police, the court heard.

The court also heard that the defendant had went undetected in a police search of the property, by hiding in a cupboard that officers failed to inspect. He was eventually found later that afternoon.

The forgery investigation was brought by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the trial continues.

Shaun Dyson was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 17 years at Winchester Crown Court for the murder of his estranged wife at the family house in Andover while children were at the property.

Simon Jones, prosecuting, said that Dyson had become “enraged” by a phone call 30-year-old Ms Rushton received from a man she had been in a relationship with.

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