Police arrest man for murder after woman found dead by colleague who came to pick her up for work

Murder at Cherry Tree Cottage: Police arrest man after woman, 44, is found dead by colleague who came to pick her up for workBody of care home worker Debbie Levey discovered in East Ashling, near Chichester, West Sussex
45-year-old man 'known to her' in custody on suspicion of woman's murder

By
Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED:

07:03 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:03 GMT, 29 January 2013

Police have launched a murder investigation and arrested a man after a woman's body was found by a colleague who was due to take her to work.

Emergency services were called to Cherry Tree Cottage in East Ashling, near Chichester, at 8am yesterday after the 44-year-old was discovered in the house, Sussex Police said.

The woman, named locally as care home worker Deborah Levey, was found by a colleague at 7.45am who had been due to take her to a meeting in London.

A 45-year-old man from Selsey, who was
known to the woman, was arrested last night on suspicion of her murder.
He remains in custody.

Crime scene: Police officers seal off Cherry Tree Cottage in Ashling, West Sussex, after the body of a woman named as Debbie Levey was found yesterday

Crime scene: Police officers seal off Cherry Tree Cottage in Ashling, West Sussex, after the body of a woman named as Debbie Levey was found yesterday

Ms Levey rented her cottage from a local
farmer 77-year-old Eric Bulbeck who said: ‘Debbie’s manager came round
to pick her up, they were going to London for a meeting.

‘She waited outside the house then phoned her but got no response.

‘She went round the back and the door was unlocked and that was when she saw her.

‘She came back here and I had to go in to confirm it.

‘That was about quarter to eight. She was just sitting on the settee with a rug around her shoulders.

‘I don’t know what happened. The television was on the standby screen as if it had been on.

‘It was horrifying she has been a friend for a long time and my wife is friendly with her.’

Forensic investigation: Police officers enter the house to gather evidence in the murder investigation

Forensic investigation: Police officers enter the house to gather evidence in the murder investigation

He said Ms Levey had been married twice and was seeing a new partner who worked as a taxi driver in Selsey.

He added that Ms Levey had been a ‘good friend’ for ten years and that
she was a ‘brilliant tenant’ and a ‘lovely lady’ who was good at her
job.

Guard: Police continue to gather evidence from within Cherry Tree Cottage, where the body was found yesterday morning

Guard: Police continue to gather evidence from within Cherry Tree Cottage, where the body was found yesterday morning

Det Chief Insp Ian Pollard from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team,
who is leading the investigation, said: ‘While initially it was thought
that we were dealing with a sudden death, officers became increasingly
suspicious of the circumstances.

‘As yet, the cause of her death is unexplained and we are awaiting the results of a post-mortem that will take place on Tuesday.

‘However, our inquiries lead us to believe that this was not a natural death and a murder inquiry has been launched.’

He added: ‘The last time that the woman was seen to be alive was at her home at 12.30pm on Sunday 28 January.

‘We would like to hear from anyone who saw her or was in contact with her after that time up until Monday morning.

‘We would also like to hear from anyone who was in the East Ashling area
on Sunday afternoon or early evening and who saw a blue Vauxhall Vectra
parked in a small lay-by just across the road from Cherry Tree
Cottage.’

Flowers had been left at the scene in tribute to Ms Levey – known as
Debbie – one read, ‘My dear friend Debbie we will always love you always
be there for you, Jade xxx’

A spokesman for the Leaholme care home in Chichester, where Deborah
Levey worked, said: ‘We are all deeply saddened by the death of Debbie,
and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this very sad time.

‘As the manager of one of our care schemes she displayed so much passion and warmth when caring for others.

‘We have trained staff on site to provide emotional support and
assistance to colleagues, and we are also working with the police as
part of their ongoing investigations.’

Anyone
with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 101, quoting
Operation Dive, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.