A HUNT is on for a mystery man seen in a Somercotes pub on the night Jia Ashton was killed.
Four weeks have passed since the pretty married 24-year-old was killed after being attacked on her way home from work from Thornton’s factory on Wimsey Way, Somercotes,
Police say she was assaulted as she walked along the ‘Yellow Brick Road’, a popular path which runs alongside the Sleetmoor Woods, at just after 5pm on Thursday, March 10. Her body was found three days later, covered in just twigs and fallen brushwood. Her killer had made no attempt to bury her.
Yesterday CCTV images of a man who was spotted in the Sleetmoor Woods at around 6pm on Thursday, March 10 have been released by police.
The shots show him in the Cotes Park Inn on Nottingham Road, Somercotes shortly afterwards holding a plate of food. Staff at the pub say they have never seen the man before and felt he was acting out of the ordinary.
Police say they are not sure whether there is a link between the man shown in CCTV stills and the artists’ impression of a ‘suspicious looking’ man, dubbed ‘hat man’ witnesses described seeing at the woods on the same night.
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cotterill, leading the investigation, said: “We’d like to talk to this man who may have information that would help us . As I’ve said before , we are trying to speak to everyone who was in that part of Somercotes the night she died.”
The artists impression of ‘hat man’, released two weeks ago show a middle aged man dressed in a dark green beanie hat, a thigh-length green waterproof walking jacket done up to the neck and dark green or brown combat trousers.
Witnesses reported a male of this description hiding in the undergrowth of the Sleetmoor woods when passers-by spotted him.
Witnesses say he was wearing a distinctive beige coloured bag.
Police have not ruled out that the CCTV footage at the Cotes Park Inn and the artists’ impression seen on posters around Somercotes depict the same man.
A £20,000 reward has been offered by a mystery benefactor to anyone who can provide information which might lead to catching Jia’s killer.
Det Chief Supt Cotterill said: “I hope the offer of this reward will encourage others who have not yet come forward to do so.”
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