Ipswich churchyard murder of Perry Wenham remains unsolved 25 years on

Police search the churchyard where Perry Wenham was murdered in January 1992

Police search the churchyard where Perry Wenham was murdered in January 1992

On this day 25 years ago detectives were in the early stages of an Ipswich murder inquiry that, as yet, has no end.

Perry Wenham died after his throat was slashed and he had suffered nearly a dozen stab wounds as he tried to protect himself.

The 31-year-old’s body was found lying in a pool of blood by a passer-by in the early hours of January, 24, 1992. It was between two tombs in the yard of St Lawrence Church in Dial Lane, Ipswich.

At the opening of a subsequent trial in December 1992 involving two men aged 23 and 25 who were accused of killing the glue sniffer, prosecutor Graham Parkyns QC told Norwich Crown Court: “It was a brutal murder.

“Mr Wenham was stabbed 11 times in all. His throat was cut and that severed the jugular vein on the right side of his neck.

“Whoever inflicted those wounds must have intended to cause that man very serious physical injury – if not kill him.”

Both men who stood trial were acquitted of murdering Mr Wenham.

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He had been indulging in his habit of sniffing glue on the night of January 24.

Mr Wenham was seen with two men earlier in the day.

During the night a witness saw a very drunk Mr Wenham leaving the Great White Horse Hotel, after which he met the same two men again on the Cornhill at around 11.30pm.

The trio were observed heading towards St Lawrence Church.

Two of the men were later seen standing under the Lloyds Avenue arch by a police officer, but without Mr Wenham.

They walked together along Tavern Street and were seen emerging from an alleyway in Dial Lane.

By that time Mr Wenham had been murdered.

The two men were seen to walk briskly away from the scene.

One of the men when subsequently interviewed by police said he saw a man hit Mr Wenham who fell down.

‘Gurgling’ noises could be heard coming from Mr Wenham.

A pathologist examined Mr Wenham’s body and said there were two defence wounds, as if he was trying to ward off the attack.

The Norwich Crown Court murder trial collapsed when the judge Mr Patrick Garland threw it out.

After the jury formally brought in not guilty verdicts due to insufficient evidence the judge said: “The evidence against both these defendants is deplorably weak.”

Mr Wenham’s body was found between two tombs in the churchyard at around 2.30am. A trial of blood was clearly visible on the pavement after dawn had broken.

At the time of his death Mr Wenham was living in a flat in Birkfield Drive. It was said he had been living there for three years, but kept himself to himself.

Mr Wenham was a well-known customer at the Nippin Café in St Helen’s Street.

He was also known to police and was jailed for five years in 1985 at Ipswich Crown Court after committing a series of break-ins.

In 1990 he organised a vigil in memory of one of his friends who had been murdered in a brawl on Ipswich’s Cornhill.

Other than the two men who were acquitted of Mr Wenham’s murder no one else was ever charged.

Suffolk Constabulary have said the Norfolk and Suffolk joint Major Investigation Team police staff routinely review unsolved crimes.

Officers say they realise family and friends of unsolved murder victims continue to grieve and require closure.

They stress it is never too late for people to come forward with any information they think may help an inquiry.

If you have any information which could be relevant to catching the murderer of Perry Wenham telephone Suffolk Constabulary on 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.