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Hunt for Ashley's killer goes on

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Ashley Dighton
Ashley Dighton

Police say they are continuing their investigations into the death of teenager Ashley Dighton, whose decapitated body was found near a supermarket.

A coroner yesterday recorded an open verdict at an inquest into the death of 19-year-old, from Nine Acres, Kennington.

He was found dead in scrubland behind Ashford's Sainbury’s store 18 months ago. Police launched a murder investigation at the time but no one has ever been charged. Coroner Rachel Redman made it clear at the inquest, held in Ashford Court, that investigations are ongoing.

Det Ch Insp David Withers said: "We cannot say how Ashley died but the evidence suggests someone attempted to cover the body with branches, and had removed clothes from his body while it was in an advanced stage of decomposition."

He said they had found a carrier bag with his T-shirt with a missing rib from his body attached, in another bag 100 metres away from the remains and his shoes in another area, but his trousers had never been found.

Police used up to 100 officers on fingertip searches hunting for evidence after the remains were found on July 11 last year.

Experts were called in to study insect life but they had been unable to give an accurate date of death.

He said: "It was the body of a young man and the remains were consistent with a body that had been outside for about a month."

Pathologist Dr David Rouse who attended the scene said the head and some of the upper limbs were missing from the decomposed remains and he was unable to ascertain the cause of death.

Ashley's father Ambrose Dighton spoke of the final time he saw his son when he made a brief visit to the family home in Nine Acres to change his clothes on Sunday, June 10.

He said he had not reported his son missing until June 21 as he was not concerned as he often stayed with his sisters.

When he checked with them and they had not seen him he alerted police who launched the missing person hunt that ended with the discovery of the body.

Amanda Dighton told the court her brother had stayed at her home on the night of June 10 with her then partner Liam Walsh and Jason Farmer.

The next morning they all travelled into the town centre where a bottle of vodka was purchased.

The four young people en-route for shopping at the Warren Retail Park Ashley got another bottle of vodka from Lidl.

She said: "At Sainsbury’s Liam, my ex, got beer and Ashley wanted another crate but he put it back as he had not enough money. He went outside and that was the last time I saw him.

"Even though he had been drinking I was not concerned for him and thought he might have gone to dad’s or his girlfriend's."

In a statement to the police, Liam Walsh said he and Ashley had been drinking vodka during the morning and admitted Ashley was very drunk.

Polish store security guard Lucas Brezezinski said that on patrol he saw a very drunk youth outside the shop who he had identified from photographs as Ashley.

He was drinking from a bottle of vodka in a brown bag.

Through an interpreter he said: "He said he was OK as he sat on a bench and that he was going back home down the footpath.

He was not abusive or looking to quarrel with me. He walked off and I followed behind and watched as he unsteadily went down the footpath and out of sight. It was a warm, dry sunny day and no one followed or passed him."

DCI Withers, said: "Our investigation into the death of Ashley continues and will continue until we establish the facts surrounding his death and bring anyone responsible to justice.

"We continue to appeal to members of the public to come forward with any information they may have regarding this investigation.

"Ashley’s family are distraught at the loss of their loving son and I ask that anyone who has any information thinks of their grief and comes forward to help us further our inquiries."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room on 01622 654860, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

• Click on the video above to see Ashley Dighton's father Ambrose respond to the inquest verdict

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