Man charged over murder of pensioner at Ocean Village

Delia Hughes, the murdered Ocean Village resident and pensioner

Delia Hughes, the murdered Ocean Village resident and pensioner. Photograph via the Daily Echo.

A large part of Ocean Village was sealed off on the evening of Saturday 18th August as police investigated the murder of Delia Hughes, an 85-year-old Ocean Village resident whose body was found by relatives visiting her home in Atlantic Close.

ITV Meridian News reported on Saturday evening that Mrs Hughes was found at 7:55pm.  At this point, the Major Investigation Team were called in and a wide area was cordoned off in order to protect the scene and allow police to collect potentially important evidence.  An ambulance was seen leaving the scene shortly after 11pm on Saturday evening.

Local resident, James Raven, told ITV Meridian that police officers had been searching gardens:

“They didn’t say what they were looking for but four or five of them with torches were scanning the pathway and looking in wheelie bins. Police tape has been put across two roads and local residents are being escorted to their homes but no cars have been allowed to drive up or down the road – apart from police cars. I have never know anything like it in Ocean Village.”
James Raven, Ocean Village resident

Police cordon on Ocean Way Saturday evening

Police cordon on Ocean Way Saturday evening

Hampshire Constabulary later said that officers were looking for a possible weapon and were carrying out a fingertip search, concentrating on bins, undergrowth and drains, according to BBC News.

On Sunday morning (19th August), the Daily Echo reported that detectives had launched a full-scale murder enquiry with over 60 officers involved in the hunt for the pensioner’s killer.

Two arrested

Sunday afternoon, Hampshire Police confirmed a 37-year-old man from Southampton had been arrested in connection with the investigation. In a press conference, Detective Chief Inspector Pete McGowan said that the investigation was at an early stage and that the arrest was one of several lines of inquiry. The lady was found inside her one-bedroom, ground-floor flat in a 1980s block by family members concerned for her welfare, McGowan said. They had not heard from her since Thursday.

On Monday (20th August), a second person – a 29-year-old woman – was also arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in police custody where she is being questioned by detectives. The man arrested earlier remained in custody. Police canine units were on site for much of the afternoon and into the evening. Police named the victim on Monday afternoon as Delia Hughes and confirmed that her next of kin were aware of her death. The public started to leave floral tributes by the police cordon.

RESIDENTS PARKING
We had previously arranged with MDL temporary parking measures for residents whilst the police cordon was prohibiting access to Ocean Way. We can now confirm that this cordon has been removed and residents should now be able to park at their homes in their usual spaces. Thank you for your patience during this period, and many thanks to MDL for helping us so promptly with this contingency.

Autopsy confirms murder

On Monday, the Daily Echo reported that a post-mortem examination by a Home Office pathologist found that the cause of death was several blows to the head. The Echo went on to say that footage from CCTV cameras in the area is also being recovered in the hope that the killer may have been captured on camera.

Yesterday, the curtains were drawn across the front window of the property, where three china figurines sat neatly on the windowsill. A large white and yellow forensic tent had been erected over what appeared to be a door leading into a garden area outside the apartment. Forensic experts wearing white protective suits were seen coming and going from the back of the block of flats, carrying crates and plastic bags.
Daily Echo article

Two arrested named, later bailed

On Tuesday (21st August), the Daily Echo reported the names of the two people that police had detained. Later on Tuesday evening, the Daily Echo released an update stating that the two people had been released on bail.

The investigation continues

On Thursday 23rd August, the Daily Echo reported that specialist crime profilers had been called in to help with the investigation. Detective Superintendent Tony Harris told the Echo:

“The analysis provided by these experts will help the investigation team to understand more about the crime and how it was committed. Crime profilers are frequently used in murder investigations and the information they can harvest from a crime scene often reveals a great deal and is invaluable when combined with other evidence.”
Daily Echo article

In another article on Friday (24th August), the Echo reported that divers had also been called in to help with shallow water searches:

Police confirmed the move was part of an ongoing search for the weapon used to kill the pensioner after they received reports that someone was seen throwing an item into the marina around the time of the murder. A specialist team of divers was called in from Thames Valley Police to help with the search, which involved a small area of water near the marina walls.
Daily Echo article

Community meeting with Hampshire Constabulary

On the evening of Tuesday 28th August, Hampshire Constabulary met with a large group of concerned residents from the Ocean Village Community. It was an opportunity for the public to learn more about the investigation and to pose questions to local officers and the team working on the case. We have now written up our notes from this meeting, for anybody that was unable to attend it.

Other police communications to residents

22nd August Police Newsletter (PDF)
21st August Police Newsletter (PDF)

If you have any questions for your local Waterfront police team, please e-mail southampton.central.snt@hampshire.pnn.police.uk or call 0845 045 4545.

More from the investigation

Do you know this man?

CCTV images (Click for larger)

Immediately following the community meeting, Hampshire Police released CCTV images of a man captured on Ocean Village security cameras whom they were interested in identifying and speaking to. The Daily Echo reported:

The man was sighted by an Atlantic Close resident on the day the body of Delia Hughes was discovered – Saturday, August 18. He was seen by the resident leaving Atlantic Close and walking off in the direction towards Tasman Close at around 9.30am.
Daily Echo article

Later the same week, police released additional CCTV footage of the same man, this time captured in Woolston. The Daily Echo reported:

This latest image shows the man on Bridge Road in Woolston at approximately 8am on Saturday, August 18, the day the body of Mrs Hughes was discovered.
Daily Echo article

The Echo also later reported on other developments in the investigation, including searches of the duck ponds which yielded potential items of interest, and interactions with the community of Woolston (article 1, article 2):

…Police spent the weekend focusing on a small corner of Woolston in their bid to trace a mystery man who could hold vital information about the 85-yearold’s death. … After scouring hundreds of hours of CCTV, police have been able to track the movements of a hoodie-wearing man who they know visited the marina area on the morning Delia was killed.
Daily Echo article

LATEST: The arrest and charging of Jamie Boult

On Sunday 16th September, BBC News reported that Jamie Lee Boult, 24, of Chessel Crescent in Bitterne, had been arrested and charged with the alleged murder of Ocean Village resident, Delia Hughes.

Mr Boult made his first court appearance at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on the morning of Tuesday 18th September. The Daily Echo reported that he spoke only to confirm his name, age and address. Mr Boult is alleged to have entered Mrs Hughes’ ground floor flat in Ocean Village before hitting her over the head with a lump hammer several times. He also faces a separate aggravated burglary charge, relating to an incident at an address in Bitterne four days prior to the alleged murder of Mrs Hughes. He was remanded in custody and is set to appear at Winchester Crown Court on Thursday 20th September.

Family pays tribute

The Daily Echo reported on Tuesday morning a statement from the victim’s family:

“We are all absolutely devastated and deeply saddened by what we can only describe as an extremely cruel and pointless act against an elderly and defenceless woman. Delia was the kindest person anyone could wish meet and she never had cross words with anyone, in fact, Delia would do anything for anyone and had a heart of gold.

“Delia was fit and active for her age and for someone like her to be so cruelly taken from us in this way is too much and we want justice as soon as we can. Delia’s great grandchildren idolised her and no matter how old she was, she did everything for them. They were proud to have a great grandmother whom they called “nana”. We are all going to miss her greatly.”
Family tribute in Daily Echo article

Reactions from neighbours

The Daily Echo quotes various neighbours who have reacted to the tragic news with one friend of the victim describing her as a “well dressed, fit, healthy and intelligent woman”.

“I saw police round there last night and I knew something terrible had happened. It is horrible. It is particularly nasty because I knew her. She was a lovely person, an active lady. She had a nicely kept house.”
Ocean Village resident

Another neighbour said:

“I used to see an elderly lady in the garden there when I walked past and I always said hello. She seemed very nice. It is very shocking news.”
Ocean Village resident

Andrea Boghi, a resident of Atlantic Close, added:

“It is a very quiet road and I have never seen any trouble here or much police activity. I looked out of the window at about half past midnight and saw police shining torches on the ground looking for something. I suspected from all the activity that somebody had died.”
Andrea Boghi, Atlantic Close resident

Greeta Singh, 30, an IT consultant from neighbouring Pacific Close, said:

“I could see a lot of stuff happening but we could not get more information. We saw an ambulance and police had put up cordons. There were police officers everywhere. It is usually very peaceful and really safe. I am really shocked.”
Greeta Singh, Pacific Close resident