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David Lawal murder: What we know so far about Thetford stabbing

PUBLISHED: 14:32 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:25 02 December 2019

The scene in Brandon Road. Insert: David Lawal and Police searching the River Thet. Picture: Archant

The scene in Brandon Road. Insert: David Lawal and Police searching the River Thet. Picture: Archant

Archant

Thetford was left shocked by the killing of David Lawal.

Police at the scene where David Lawal was stabbed at Brandon Road in Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at the scene where David Lawal was stabbed at Brandon Road in Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The 25-year-old was stabbed in Brandon Road, dying after a desperate fight by members of the public to save his life.

The murder is being linked to County Lines drug dealing, with Norfolk Police officers investigating multiple lines of enquiry, having already made 16 arrests.

Here is what we know so far.

Police search the river at Thetford in connection to the murder case. Picture: ArchantPolice search the river at Thetford in connection to the murder case. Picture: Archant

The incident

Mr Lawal, 25, from Hackney, was found with stab wounds to his chest and neck at about 7pm on October 3 by members of the public. They were battling to save his life when officers on patrol in the area found them.

The gym instructor died of his injuries after an hour of resuscitation attempts and police launched a murder investigation.

Four days after the murder Mr Lawal's father, Albert Lawal, issued a statement.

David Lawal, 25, was murdered in Thetford. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyDavid Lawal, 25, was murdered in Thetford. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

He said: "All the family loved him and he was a quiet, friendly and hardworking young man. We were all very proud of him when he was awarded his degree in accountancy and finance."

MORE: 'He's been stabbed...I tried to help' - hour long battle to save Thetford murder victim ended in tragedy

The investigation

The next day, October 4, police put the area into lockdown with a black tarpaulin beneath a white tent erected over the scene guarded by police.

Code named Operation Petersfield, the investigation saw a joint task force from Norfolk and Suffolk Police knocking on doors in the area and speaking to those who live nearby. Extra officers were patrolling the town and an information hub was created in Durham Way for people to speak to police.

As well as the hub in the community a portal was created online for people to anonymously share information.

Police at the bridge over the underpass under Brandon Road in Thetford where David Lawal was stabbed in Brandon Road in Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at the bridge over the underpass under Brandon Road in Thetford where David Lawal was stabbed in Brandon Road in Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Calling the 101 police line and saying 'Operation Petersfield' would also put callers through to detectives.

A week after Mr Lawal's murder, police said they believed it was linked to County Lines and appealed for more information from the public.

Detective chief inspector Phillip Gray, who is leading the investigation, said: "I can't stress enough how important the public are in helping us to identify potentially key witnesses.

"This a complex and fast-moving investigation and our enquiries to date suggest this murder has all the hallmarks of being connected to County Lines."

Police search the river at Thetford in connection to the murder case. Picture: ArchantPolice search the river at Thetford in connection to the murder case. Picture: Archant

More than a month after the murder on November 20 and 21, officers from Essex searched the River Thet which flows through the town in an attempt to find further evidence.

Officers scanned the river bank, guiding a dinghy with further officers searching the water for clues.

DCI Gray said he is committed to not only finding the murderer but investigating the County Lines connection to bring all involved to justice.

He added: "Our investigation involves County Lines activity and as such there are many lines of enquiry involving a number of individuals.

"A young man lost his life by the side of a road in Thetford little more than a month ago and while our priority is to catch those responsible for David's murder, we need to investigate the wider drug dealing network so we can be absolutely certain who was involved, what their involvement was and ensure we do our very best to bring them to justice."

MORE: Police divers search river for murder clues

Arrests

In total 16 people have been arrested in relation to Mr Lawal's death.

Four men were initially arrested the day after the murder.

October 5

-Man, 48, arrested on suspicion of possessing a blade and Class A drugs, released under investigation after questioning.

-Man, 26, arrested in connection to the incident, released under investigation after questioning.

-Man, 29, arrested in connection to the incident, released under investigation after questioning.

-Man, 17, arrested in connection to the incident, released on bail.

October 8

-Thetford man, 60s, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, released under investigation after questioning.

October 11

-Thetford man, 60s, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, released with no further action to be taken.

October 15

-Ilford, Essex, man, 33, arrested in Haverhill on suspicion of murder, released on bail.

-Haverhill man, 22, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, released under investigation.

-Man, 17, re-arrested in Greater London on suspicion of murder, released on bail.

October 17

-Haverhill man, 23, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, released under investigation.

-Norwich man, 42, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, released under investigation.

October 19

-Thetford woman, 25, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, released under investigation.

October 24

-Man, 17, arrested in London on suspicion of murder, released on bail.

October 30

-Man, 16, arrested in London on suspicion of murder, released on bail.

November 7

-Woman, 19, arrested in Bedford on suspicion of assisting an offender and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, released on bail.

November 13

-Woman, 17, arrested in Haverhill on suspicion of assisting an offender and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, released on bail.

November 20

-Woman, 21, arrested in London on suspicion of assisting an offender and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, released on bail.

MORE: Murder victim was gym instructor, inquest hears

How you can help

No-one has yet been charged with Mr Lawal's murder.

Anyone with information should contact Norfolk Police on 101 and quote reference Operation Petersfield and a member of the enquiry team will call them back.

They can also share information with detectives online at mipp.police.uk/operation/363719N41-PO1

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers.co.uk

Norfolk Police has declined to answer our fresh questions into the case.

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