Honiton stabbing; religious hate crime motive not ruled out

PUBLISHED: 15:31 07 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:24 09 June 2017

Police remain at the scene in Dowell Street, Honiton, where a man was fatally stabbed

Police remain at the scene in Dowell Street, Honiton, where a man was fatally stabbed

Archant

Police investigating the fatal stabbing of a man at a place of worship in Honiton say the motive remains ‘unclear’. Detectives are appealing for witnesses in the Dowell Street and Lace Walk car park areas to come forward.

Police remain at the scene in Dowell Street, Honiton, where a man died from stab wounds Ref mhh 23 17TI 4253. Picture: Terry IfePolice remain at the scene in Dowell Street, Honiton, where a man died from stab wounds Ref mhh 23 17TI 4253. Picture: Terry Ife

Police are investigating if a man stabbed to death near a place of worship in Honiton on Tuesday afternoon was the victim of a religious hate crime.

The 55-year-old man was found dead with multiple stab wounds near Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Dowell Street, a short distance from Honiton town centre.

Devon and Cornwall Police yesterday stressed the incident was not related to terrorism, calling it a ‘very isolated attack’.

A 55-year-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody and will be interviewed by detectives throughout the day.

Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Superintendent Jim Colwell said the motive behind the attack ‘remains unclear’ and detectives hadn’t ruled out religious hatred.

“Clearly that’s one of our key lines of inquiry; to try to find any connection and the reasons behind the attack,” said Chf Supt Colwell.

“Obviously the location of the incident itself in the Jehovah Witness hall causes us a degree of concern as to why that particular location was chosen.

“The motive for the attack remains unclear. I wouldn’t wish to speculate at the moment, but clearly why that location was targeted at that time and in that way, is one of our key lines of inquiry.

“The movements of our suspect, we know, were quite potentially visible to anybody who would have been in that area of Honiton.

“So anybody that was in that street at that time, I would urge them to give us a call. They may have got information that may be of use to us.”

Chf Supt Colwell added: “What I would like to do is reassure the communities of Honiton and the wider communities of Devon and Cornwall that incidents like these, thankfully, remain very rare in our part of the world and Devon and Cornwall remains a very safe place to live.

Devon and Cornwall Police said a ‘large number’ of detectives from the Major Crime Investigation Team had been drafted in.

Officers will extensively search the immediate area where the man died; a police drone will capture footage of the surrounding area.

A post mortem of the victim, who has yet to be named, is expected to be carried out today.

Police want to hear from anyone who was in the Dowell Street area of Honiton, or around a campervan parked in the Lace Walk car park in the town centre between 1pm and 4pm on Tuesday afternoon, June 6.

Devon and Cornwall Police said police and ambulance crews were called at around 3.40pm after ‘concerns were raised’ for the welfare of the man at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Dowell Street.

On arrival they found a 55-year-old man dead at the scene. He had sustained a number of stab wounds. The victim’s family was informed.

• Anyone who may have information about the incident is asked to contact police via 101@dc.police.uk or by telephoning 101, quoting log 529 of 06/06/17.

Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers via 0800 555111 or the charity’s website at www.crimestoppers-org.uk.

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