DETECTIVES investigating the murder of North East man John Hall have switched their inquiries to Sunderland.
Police from Durham Constabulary were originally tasked with finding Mr Hall’s killers, after the 46-year-old’s body was found in a country lane in West Rainton last Sunday evening.
In an unusual turn, Northumbria Police officers have taken over the case, where inquiries and painstaking forensic searches are being carried out near the victim’s home in Shiney Row, in a bid to unearth clues.
A post-mortem examination revealed that Mr Hall, known as Jonty to pals, died from multiple serious injuries in what was a violent assault. His body was found by a dog walker in Marks Lane, West Rainton.
Both forces will continue to pool resources and share information on the case, chiefs said.
Officers today renewed appeals for anyone who may have witnessed anything to contact them. Five men aged between 32 and 48 years have so far been arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to Mr Hall’s death.
They remain in custody, but have now been moved to police stations in the Northumbria force area.
Detective Chief Inspector Christina Barrett, of Northumbria Police, who is now leading the investigation, said: “We will continue to work closely with Durham Constabulary building on the joint work carried out to date.
“Although it is unusual for a murder investigation to be transferred from one force to another, it has become clear that the majority of the investigation will continue within Northumbria’s boundaries, and therefore a decision was made for Northumbria Police to be given ownership of the inquiry.
“I would like to reiterate the earlier comments made by colleagues at Durham, that inquiries have led us to believe that Mr Hall was not the victim of a random attack.”
Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, Sunderland Area Commander, said: “Residents in Shiney Row will have seen areas cordoned off by police who have been making inquiries into this case. We also have additional neighbourhood officers on patrol in these areas to reassure local people.
“If any residents have concerns they wish to share with officers, or information about this case, I would ask them to speak with an officer.”
Anyone with information can call police on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.