EMPLOYEE 'HAD VITAL EVIDENCE' Nicki Walker
Norfolk Eastern Daily Press, UK Oct 12 2005
A factory employee told a jury at Norwich Crown Court yesterday how she gave detectives the vital breakthrough in their bid to identify a dead man and track down his killers.
Vanessa Armstrong, who works at Cooper Roller Bearings in King's Lynn, recognised a scorched piece of memo, found next to the dead man's burning body, dumped in a field at Upton, near Peterborough.
The man had been shot and stabbed before being doused in petrol and set alight on December 21, 2002.
David Farrell, prosecuting, told the court that detectives spent almost a year trying to identify the body. But once they found the source of the memo, it helped them find the murder scene - Cooper Roller Bearings' medical room. This led them to the alleged killers - Armenians Nishan Bakunts, 28, and his father-in-law Misha Chatsjatrjan, 44 - and helped them identify the murdered man as 42-year-old fellow countryman Hovanhannes Amirian.
The court heard that after finding the partly-burned memo - bearing the names Talbot and Armstrong - detectives wrote to everyone with those surnames in the eastern region. More than 2000 letters were sent, asking recipients if they recognised the memo.
Ms Armstrong told the court yesterday that she contacted the police on September 4, 2003, after receiving a letter from the force and a copy of the burned memo.
She told the court: "I recognised it instantly, because it is something I do fortnightly. It was quite clearly my writing and my memo."
>>From the memo and with Mrs Armstrong's extra information, police were able to establish it had been sent to an employee, Paul Talbot, regarding a routine medical check at the factory.
Mr Talbot realised the last time he had the memo was in the factory's medical room.
After searching the room, forensic officers discovered traces of the dead man's blood on the couch and walls.
Bakunts, it emerged, was working as a security guard at the factory on the weekend of the murder.
In a statement read to the court, Det Insp Bert Deane, who led the murder investigation, said of the call from Mrs Armstrong: "It was a major breakthrough in the investigation."
Bakunts, of Lichfield Road, Yarmouth, and Chatsjatrjan, who was living in Holland, deny murdering Mr Amirian.
Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Cary said his examinations showed the man had died from gunshots to the face and multiple stabbing to his body.
Mr Cary said it was likely that two people carried out the attack.
He said it was unusual for a murderer to use one method of killing such as a gun and then change and use a knife.
The man would have been dead when the killers set his body alight, he added.
The trial continues.