Culmination of a long and complex investigation

THE conviction of Julian Gardner’s killers is the culmination of a long and complex investigation.

In total, 12 people were arrested in the months following his death as police worked to try and find those responsible.

Officers were called to Bush Barn Farm, just off the A21 at Robertsbridge, at 8.10am on Monday October 11, 2010 after Mr Gardner’s body was discovered laying in the driveway by his business partner.

A investigation was launched and Detective Chief Inspector Adam Hibbert later says he believes Mr Gardner died as a result of “a burglary that went wrong”.

A Land Rover Defender, which belonged to Mr Gardner, was found at Cripps Corner, and a Jeep Cherokee, which was used in the robbery, was found near a pond in Sandhurst, Kent.

Both vehicles were burnt out.

On December 14 2010, detectives appealed for help from the public in an episode of BBC One show Crimewatch.

During the programme, mother Molly and sister Anna broke their silence over Julian’s death and there was a reconstruction of the businessman’s final moments.

A man was arrested shortly after the programme was aired.

In summer 2011, six people were charged with manslaughter and a lengthy court case began in February 2012.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick May said: “The investigation was not a straight-forward one.

“There were no witnesses at the scene and the evidence relied on DNA evidence at the scene and also some very complex telecommunication evidence that we needed to gather to establish who was involved and what their parts were in the very tragic death of Julian.”

Mobile phone analysis showed that in the hours after Mr Gardner’s death the movements of the defendants were within a limited area around Bush Barn Farm, Sandhurst and Cripps Corner, where the vehicles were disposed.

DCI May said Sussex Police had worked closely with the local community in and around Robertsbridge from the night of Mr Gardner’s death right the way up to the conviction of his killers.

He said: “We have worked tirelessly with the local community in order to reassure them that Sussex Police takes rural crime extremely seriously and we have worked with the Rother district in order to reassure the community about the work that we are doing in order to reduce rural crime.”