Family told of Alison’s last hours

THE family of murdered Henlow woman Alison Redford sat ashen faced as they listened to evidence at her inquest on Tuesday afternoon in Bedford. The inquest heard how Hitchin-born Alison, 34, of Park Farm Close, Henlow, was violently assaulted and strangle

THE family of murdered Henlow woman Alison Redford sat ashen faced as they listened to evidence at her inquest on Tuesday afternoon in Bedford.

The inquest heard how Hitchin-born Alison, 34, of Park Farm Close, Henlow, was violently assaulted and strangled in the bathroom at her home on September 8 last year.

Police said they are convinced her murderer was her boyfriend Andrew Auger who then took his own life by jumping into the River Thames from Blackfriars Bridge.

Bedford coroner David Morris heard how the relationship between Ms Redford, who was known to her friends as Ally, and Auger had began to break down.

DS Mark Crone told the inquest the couple had met in 2000 and in 2004 Auger moved into Ms Redford's home in Park Farm Close.

The officer revealed the harrowing facts of how Alison met her death starting with the day she was probably murdered, September 8.

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"We think this was the day she died. She was working part-time at home and spoke to a number of friends including her sister Janet on the phone," said DS Crone.

"Two days later, following concern by her family, a friend went to the house and went upstairs and saw what she believed to be a body in the bath covered by a sheet.

"Following a forensic examination it was ascertained Ms Redford had been assaulted standing in the bath where she died."

A post mortem revealed the cause of death was asphyxiation and pressure to the neck.

Following the murder police launched Operation Troy to find her murderer but police were always convinced Andrew Auger was her killer.

Even though inquiries lasted over a month, police now believe Auger, 30, killed himself the day after Alison died.

"There were no signs of forced entry to the house. Auger had been living at the address," said DS Crone.

"The motive for this murder is still unconfirmed. Strident attempts have been made to find a motive and we did receive evidence of a gradual breakdown in their relationship.

"During Operation Troy 430 interviews were carried out and 600 exhibits seized.

"Later on September 8, Alison's red Ford Fiesta was seen to breach the congestion charge zone on Blackfriars Bridge with a male driver, believed to be Andrew Auger, at the wheel.

"By that time we believe Alison was no longer alive."

Recording a verdict that Alison was killed unlawfully, the coroner gave her father, Terry Redford from Letchworth GC, the opportunity to add on her death certificate she had been killed by Auger.

After conferring with his children he declined the offer.

Asked whether he wanted to question the evidence he told the court: "It has all been covered quite well."

He declined to make any statement to the press after the inquest.

ANDREW Auger's desperate flight from Henlow after he had murdered his girlfriend was outlined at his inquest in Bedford on Tuesday.

On the day Alison Redford was strangled at the home in Park Farm Close, which she shared with the 30-year-old musician, Auger fled in her red Ford Fiesta.

Police investigations revealed he went to Hitchin and bought £2,000 worth of euros and had gone to the One Stop Shop in Cifton twice to make purchases.

Later that day, Alison's car breached the congestion charge zone on London's Blackfriars Bridge heading south with Auger almost certainly driving the vehicle.

On September 9, the day after Alison was murdered, the court heard Auger was spotted sitting on a bench in the stone garden at St Paul's Cathedral by an America tourist, Brian Irwin.

"Auger was chain smoking and eating. Mr Irwin spoke to him and Auger said he was there to commit suicide," Operation Troy investigating officer DS Mark Crone told the inquest.

"Auger was emotionally upset and he told Mr Irwin he had done something horrible. 'I have crossed the line and I can't do anything about it' he told him.

"He spoke about his girlfriend in the past tense, about his family, life, jobs and parents.

"They then walked together over Blackfriars Bridge and Auger asked Mr Irwin to get him a drink from the corner shop.

"Mr Irwin then noticed a police car make a quick U-turn and speed back to the middle of the bridge. He went back to see what had happened and was told the man who had been with him had jumped into the River Thames."

A woman walking home across Blackfriars Bridge told police she saw a man leaning over the side of the bridge who then fall head first hitting the water quite hard.

The man disappeared from view before reappearing. There was no movement and the body, which seemed lifeless, was carried quite rapidly down the river by the current.

On September 13 the crew of the barge The Francesca Prior informed police they had spotted a body in mid river close to HMS Belfast.

It was not until October 18 that the body was confirmed as that of Andrew Auger whom Bedfordshire police had been hunting concerning the murder of Ms Redford.

Cause of death was given as drowning.

Bedford coroner David Morris recorded a verdict that Auger killed himself by jumping into the River Thames from Blackfriars Bridge following a violent assault on Alison Redford who had been strangled.

Auger's father, Terry Auger from Ampthill, declined to make any statement after the inquest.

End of a tragic chapter

A CLOSE friend and neighbour of Alison and her boyfriend reflected the mood of residents in Park Farm Close in Henlow now the final chapter has closed on the murder.

He had known Alison for several years and like other residents was shocked by the tragic events of last September.

"The murder was a big shock to everyone and hopefully we can all get our lives back to normal again.

"But for all of us the events of last September will not be easy to forget because we all knew Alison and Andrew.

"I don't think there were any surprises at the verdicts of the inquest into their deaths. It is something we perhaps all knew but it wasn't official.

"Hopefully this tragedy is now closed but it will never be forgotten, not in such a small town like Henlow.

"It has affected the lives of everyone who knew them and is still talked about even now."

The house Alison owned remains empty but nearby residents have noticed all the windows have been cleaned of the forensic dust.