Valerie Graves was ‘unlawfully killed’ rules Sussex coroner

Valerie Graves, 55
Valerie Graves, 55
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A CORONER has recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing over the death of a grandmother who was bludgeoned as she house-sat for friends.

West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said she hoped publicity surrounding the case would lead to the killer of Valerie Graves being caught.

Talented artist Ms Graves was killed in a ground-floor bedroom in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on December 30, 2013.

She was battered as she house-sat with her sister Jan, mother Eileen and her sister’s partner, Nigel Acres, while the property’s owners holidayed abroad over Christmas.

An inquest in Chichester heard that despite one person being arrested over her death, no-one has been charged and the case remains live.

Det Chief Insp Jason Taylor, of the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, said a large-scale DNA screening operation was launched in the wake of the killing.

As a result, 2,800 people have been eliminated from police inquiries as the effort to trace the killer continues, he told the inquest today.

Mr Taylor said there was no suggestion that mother-of-two Ms Graves committed suicide, adding that the nature of her injuries pointed to her being killed.

A post-mortem examination found that Ms Graves died from severe facial and cerebral trauma, said Ms Schofield, who went on to record an unlawful killing verdict.

She passed her condolences to Ms Graves’ family who did not attend the brief hearing, as she expressed her hope that further evidence will emerge.

Ms Schofield said: ‘I do hope that any publicity arising from this inquest will produce further evidence, and if this evidence comes to light, that this should lead to the apprehension of the offender.’

Ms Graves’ death shocked the village of Bosham, which featured in an episode of ITV crime drama Midsomer Murders.