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Class closes after pensioner's murder

PUBLISHED: 22:04 08 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

A LINE dancing teacher who was holding a class in Capel St Mary on the night pensioner Joan Albert was murdered has cancelled all further bookings at the village hall because he is worried the venue will turn students away.

A LINE dancing teacher who was holding a class in Capel St Mary on the night pensioner Joan Albert was murdered has cancelled all further bookings at the village hall because he is worried the venue will turn students away.

Jim Chiverton, of the Jimeta Line Dancing Club, said that he had decided to hold meetings elsewhere because people "don't want to be reminded" of the brutal killing every time they turn up for class.

The news comes as residents of the troubled village voiced their fears that the killer was still at large – and could be living in their midst.

Husband and wife team, Ralph and Jane Davies, who run the only pub in the village, told The Evening Star that they were considering selling up because business had slumped so dramatically since the pensioner's death.

Mr Davies, who runs the White Horse, revealed that the couple "didn't know whether to stay or go" and planned to ask landlords Pubmaster to reduce the rent on the property in a bid to help them through a difficult time.

Mr Chiverton, of New Village, Brantham, told The Evening Star that his decision to stop classes at Capel was not solely because of the murder.

He said that many of his students came from Essex and did not like crossing the border into Suffolk. However he added: "The Capel incident did not help.

"People don't want to turn up to a place that reminds them of what happened.

"I was worried that if I carried on I would lose people and that would affect my charity work."

Mr Chiverton, who said his not-for-profit classes raise money for among others St John Ambulance and diabetics, wrote to the Capel and Little Wenham Association in January cancelling his bookings.

The association, which runs the village bar, is the fundraising arm of the charitable trust that owns the village hall and playing field in Capel.

It had an emergency meeting yesterday > to discuss falling membership and revenue – a crisis partly provoked by Jimeta's withdrawal and a more sombre mood in the village in the wake of the Mrs Albert's murder.

Chairman Brian Salmon said that membership had fallen from 500 last year to just 245, although this figure included family membership and OAPs who did not pay.

"I don't think it is to do with Joan Albert generally. We have low membership this year and we have to look at ways we can get this back," he said.

Commenting on the mood in the village, he added: "I think everybody would like to know the police are nearer to getting who did it, but these things take time.

"It's a terrible thing to have happened in such a small village. Obviously people don't like to know that sort of thing has gone on."

Meanwhile, Mr Davies claimed that his pub was "in dire straits" because as a consequence of the murder, customers were reluctant to go outside on dark evenings

"We have invested a lot of our own money in this property and all we are doing is losing it," he said.

Nearly three months after widow Mrs Albert, 79, was found stabbed to death in her nightclothes in the hallway of her Boydlands home, drinkers at the pub still talked about the murder every night, added Mrs Davies.

"Somebody will say something every night. People are going to talk about it until it is resolved. At the moment it could be your next door neighbour or anything."

Capel resident and fork lift trucker driver Colin Raynham, 34, said that he felt vulnerable because his Windmill Hill home was surrounded by open fields and meadows. Police house to house inquiries had not reached his door.

"I think it's out of order. I live right down the end of the village, there's open fields and meadows, anybody could walk in there. You don't know if the murderer is still here or what. "

Charted engineer John McCreadie, 49, of Longfield Road, Capel, voiced his concerns as to the progress of the investigation.

"At the start there were a lot of police around and cars. There were talking to people and they said they were doing house to house. You expected them to knock it on the head pretty quickly but they didn't.

"At the start there was a lot of information but it's gone quiet now."

Roger Lee said that he had noticed a large number of homes for sale in the village and suggested that it might be because of the murder.

"There's a lot of property that has gone up for sale. A lot are due to the fact people are worried," said the entertainments manager of Tollgate Road, Capel.

"I would suggest there are at least a dozen properties up for sale which is unusual for Capel, people usually stay here and don't move on."

Property agents were quick to quash suggestions that there was an unusually high number of homes up for sale in the village or that those on the market were not being taken up.

Chris Webb, manager of Bairstow Eves, one of the main agents for the village said that homes were "going like hot cakes" in Capel.

"The village is as popular as ever. I can sell anything in Capel at the moment," he said.

Agreements to buy had been made on six homes in the village, which had been on the market for about a month, and another one was up for sale, he said.

"It's not unusual to have six sales running. It's the time of year when people are selling anyway."

N Mrs Albert was found dead at 10am on Sunday December 16. Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 01473 613777 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

N The Evening Star and business in Capel are offering a £5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.


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