Who killed Dora Pratt? Shopkeeper’s murder unsolved since 1982
PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:53 24 May 2020
Thirty eight years ago today, Suffolk police were in the middle of an investigation into a violent robbery on an Ipswich cornershop.
Weeks later, the inquiry took a tragic turn and became a murder probe, after shopkeeper Dora Pratt succumbed to the injuries she suffered in the attack.
No one was ever charged for the senseless murder of the frail 67-year-old over the contents of her shop till – and the case remains the subject of an unsolved homicide review process.
At about 5am on Saturday, January 9, 1982, Dora Pratt was found unconscious on the floor of her Bulstrode Road home which adjoined her shop, having received three blows to the head.
The divorcee was discovered by Pc Anthony Spry, who forced entry to the shop after receiving no answer.
The attack took place following a night of heavy snowfall, leading to the postponement of Ipswich Town’s FA Cup tie with Manchester United.
Dora would spend several weeks in hospital before being discharged. She was so terrified the she put her shop up for sale and went to live with her nephew in Diss. But after two months, her condition deteriorated and on July 6, Dora died as a result of the head injury she suffered in the attack.
A decade ago, former Detective Chief Inspector John Elsey, who was among those leading the investigation, told this newspaper of his sadness at the case remaining unsolved.
A bag containing £200 was found in Dora’s living-room but the shop till was empty, leading police to assume robbery as the motive behind the attack.
She had been hit three times on the head with a heavy, sharp instrument – though the weapon was never found.
Every customer to walk through the door of the shop the previous afternoon was traced and eliminated as a suspect – with the exception of one man, wearing steel-rimmed spectacles, who was never found.
Mr Elsey recalled evidence pointed towards an intruder entering through the back door.
A preliminary inquest heard her death was a direct result of the attack six months earlier.
Norwich coroner Oliver Prior recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and said: “I hope that the person who committed this brutal assault may one day be apprehended.”
Nearly 5,000 interviews were held and 200 statements taken as part of the investigation.
The case is still in the hands of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Crime Review team. Information can be sent via email here.
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