The former detective superintendent who led the manhunt for Scott Pritchard’s killer has told how he hopes the sentencing of Karen Tunmore will bring closure to Scott’s family.
Tunmore, 36, from Killingworth, was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison at Newcastle Crown Court today for the murder of 19-year-old Scott Pritchard in January 2004.
Ian Sharp, 62, the original senior investigating officer on the Scott Pritchard murder inquiry, said he was pleased that the family will now know what happened to Scott and have been able to see his killer brought to justice after 15 years.
Mr Sharp, who retired from the force 15 years ago, said: “It is a family very disappointed that it has taken so long, and I apologise that it has taken so long.
“It has taken 15 years, I did promise Scott’s mother that it would be detected, that we would sort this out, but clearly we got no information from the area.
“Karen Tunmore never came into the inquiry originally, she is from north of the water, she has got no association with Hendon. “She came in one night to collect a debt and left and kept a secret, together with one other person from Hendon who has kept that secret, so that is disappointing.
“I am pleased for the family now that they have some closure, that they realise what’s happened, that they can be in court today and watch her being sentenced.”
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Mr Sharp, who had worked for Northumbria Police for 30 years, said it was ‘really frustrating’ that it had taken so many years for Tunmore to confess to Scott’s murder.
He said: “It was really frustrating, we did a lot of inquiries in the Hendon area and we did get a lot of help from family, friends and people who lived around the area.
“But no intelligence, no information was coming in and it was really frustrating for me.
“I worked on it for nine months and then retired. “So it was a real shock when someone rang me at home and said that Karen Tunmore had come into the police station and admitted the offence.
WATCH moment Karen Tunmore arrives at police station to confess to murder
“I got that call about two weeks ago and went into the police station to help. “I wanted to help to make sure that that confession and that person confessing the murder was totally correct and that it wasn’t someone admitting it falsely.
“We know that it was a true confession, because as a senior investigating officer we keep pieces of information back from the press, from the media, from the public, so we can tell that if somebody does come in from the streets and admits the murder then we know they need to be 100% accurate with the scene information.
“In this case it was chillingly accurate.
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“Karen Tunmore has done this murder, she has confessed it immediately, she has pleased guilty to it immediately and will be sentenced today for it.”
Mr Sharp continued: “I am disappointed that at least one other person in Sunderland was with Karen Tunmore, she refuses to name that person, a male, living in Hendon.
“She went across to collect the debt from that person.
“He didn’t have the money and Scott Pritchard owed him some money, so Karen Tunmore went to Scott Pritchard to get that debt.
“When it was refused to be paid, she killed Scott Pritchard with a baseball bat and hit him over the head repeatedly.”
It was after Mr Sharp retired that Scott’s dad Fred Stacey was charged with his murder.
He was cleared of this charge at Newcastle Crown Court in October 2005.
The court heard how even after his name was cleared he still suffered abuse from people calling him a murderer.
Mr Stacey was too unwell to attend the court hearing and see his son’s real killer finally put behind bars.
Mr Sharp said: “This might get the family back together again.”