MURDER UPDATE: Red hooded man eliminated from enquiries

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Detectives investigating the murder of Jia Ashton have eliminated a man from their inquiries.

Three artists impressions, showing two men seen in Sleetmoor Wood on Thursday, March 10, the day of Mrs Ashton’s death, were released on Wednesday, March 23.

The images were of a man in a beanie hat, khaki trousers, a khaki jacket and boots.

He was carrying a satchel-type bag over his shoulder. Another image of this man shows that he was not clean-shaven.

A second image showed a man in a red hooded top and khaki-coloured trousers, but police say this man has now come forward and spoken to officers.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cotterill said: “The man has contacted us and we are satisfied that he was in the woods legitimately. He has been eliminated from our inquiries. “I’m grateful to him for coming forward and I would urge the other man shown in the artists impression to do the same.”

Appeal posters, showing both men, were distributed to businesses across Somercotes on Thursday, March 24. They have been reproduced to exclude the man in the red top and local Safer Neighbourhood officers will be out in the community again today, handing out the amended posters.

Det Chief Supt Cotterill said: “We are still keen to speak to the man in the khaki jacket and trousers. He may have had a genuine reason for being in Sleetmoor Wood on the day of Jia’s murder and if this is the case, he should come forward and speak to officers to eliminate himself from the investigation.”

Det Chief Supt Cotterill thanked residents for the support they have given police since the murder.

He added: “Somercotes is a fairly low-crime area and Jia’s murder has understandably shocked everyone in the local community. But residents have pulled together and shown great support for the police and the investigation and I’m grateful for that.”

Anyone with information should call police on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.