Thu, Jul 22, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Murders shock Yorkshire villages

AP , LONDON

This undated picture shows 27-year-old twins Diane Sanderson, left, and Claire Sanderson, who were murdered in Camblesforth, England, over the weekend.

PHOTO: AFP

Police investigating two double slayings that have shocked a quiet rural area of northern England say they want to question a man about all four deaths.

Twin sisters Claire and Diane Sanderson, 27, were found dead on Sunday in an apartment in the Yorkshire village of Camblesforth, 282km north of London. The bodies of James Britton, 80, and his wife Joan, 82, were found by neighbors the same day, 40km away in the village of Strensall.

Police said on Tuesday that they were seeking Claire Sanderson's boyfriend Mark Hobson, 34, in connection with the sisters' deaths, and said a man fitting his description was also seen near where the Brittons died.

"We want to speak to him about four murders," said Deputy Chief Constable Roger Baker of North Yorkshire police.

Police said Diane Sanderson had been strangled and that James Britton died of stab wounds. Autopsies had yet to establish how the other two victims died, although both had been violently assaulted.

Camblesforth residents reported hearing screams during the night from the apartment where Claire Sanderson lived with Hobson, a former garbageman with a conviction for unlawfully wounding a man in 2002.

Detective Superintendent Javad Ali said that although police had not established any connections between the sisters and the frail, housebound Brittons, the reported sightings and "other evidence recovered from both scenes" suggested the killings could be linked.

North Yorkshire is a large, predominantly rural county, home to rugged coastline and moorland and the gentle valleys of the Yorkshire Dales.

Baker said more than 100 staff from the force were working on the case.

"Murders are very rare in North Yorkshire, so to have two double murders is unheard of," he said. "I want to reassure the public we're doing everything possible to bring this person or these persons responsible for these murders to justice as quickly and as safely as possible."

Police said Hobson was considered dangerous and should not be approached.

He was described as 175cm tall, of slim build, with a shaven head and a 5cm scar above his left eye.

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