A former soldier with a ‘grudge’ against dog walkers brutally murdered a pensioner as he exercised his pets in remote woodland, a court has heard.
It was claimed 24-year-old Alexander Palmer stabbed Peter Wrighton to death in an attack so horrific police initially thought it had been carried out by a wild animal.
Jurors were told retired BT engineer Mr Wrighton, 83, had his throat ‘ripped open’ in the ‘random’ killing that at first appeared to have no motive.
But with ‘baffled’ detectives struggling to identify a suspect, a psychologist who had treated Palmer at an RAF base contacted police to say they thought he could be 'worth speaking to'.
Nottingham Crown Court heard that as a result, officers found that on the day Mr Wrighton died, Palmer, who was previously unknown to police, was in the area near the village of East Harling.
Father-of-two Mr Wrighton, of Banham, Norfolk, died on August 5 last year, leaving his wife of 53 years, Anne.
Palmer denies murder, claiming that although he was in the area at the time, he had nothing to do with the attack on Mr Wrighton.
David Spens QC, defending, told jurors there was no direct evidence to link Palmer, of Bawdeswell, Norfolk, to the killing, and said the prosecution case was ‘circumstantial’. The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.