New leads revealed in Jia Ashton murder case

nrhn 240311 jia Ashton and husband Matthew on their wedding day
nrhn 240311 jia Ashton and husband Matthew on their wedding day

POLICE are seeking two men in connection with the Jia Ashton murder investigation after a tip-off.

A woman contacted police to say she was driving on Sleetmoor Lane towards Somercotes at about 5pm on Wednesday March 9 – the day before Jia was murdered – when a man ran in front of her vehicle and she almost ran him over.

He ran from the yellow brick road, over Sleetmoor Lane and possibly down Blenheim Avenue. He was being chased by a younger man who stopped on the wood side of Sleetmoor Lane and walked off up Sleetmoor Lane with his fist clenched. Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cotterill said: “We’d like to trace both these men. The first man was white, six feet tall, with a slim build. He was in his late 50s or early 60s and was wearing a black beanie hat, a tan coloured sheepskin coat which was fastened up and the collar was hiding his face. Under his left arm he has what is described as a white coloured A4 sized plastic folder.

“The second man was also white, about five feet eight to nine inches tall and in his late 20s or early 30s. He had short dark hair.

“This is a long and complex investigation. The inquiry team is working long hours to sift through all the information and follow up lines of inquiry. Officers are still making house-to-house visits in an attempt to gather evidence to trace Jia’s killer.”

More than 90 police officers and police staff continue to deal with 1,800 actions that have been created as a result of information received and enquiries officers have made.

Two thousand people have come into the enquiry as witnesses, offering information or as suspects; 1,000 exhibits have been gathered and more than 350 statements have been taken. The Facebook advert has now been seen by 1.5m people within a 40 kilometre radius of Somercotes and 850 of them have clicked through to the police website for more information.

Mr Cotterill said: “The focus remains in the Somercotes and Swanwick area and officers are still keen to trace the man in green and the man in the CCTV picture from the Cotes Park Inn.

“I’d like to widen the timeframe for people seen acting suspiciously in the area of the woods. We have received information that suggests a strange man was seen several times before the day of the murder.”

Anyone who has any information should contact police on 0345 123 3333.