Hunt for 'dangerous' man Richard Scatchard wanted in connection with death to escalate in Somerset

There hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of Richard Scatchard in three months. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Extensive searches will be carried out in West Somerset by specialist teams to look for a convicted sex offender who police want to speak to in connection with the murder of a woman.

Richard Scatchard, 70, is wanted on a prison recall and police need to talk to him about the death of Kelly Faiers that happened in October 2023 in Minehead.

The incident continues to be treated as a murder inquiry.

A complaint about the police's response to the case has been made by her family.

Kelly was pronounced dead on Sunday 15 October 2023 during the early hours. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

More than 300 enquiries, including speaking to witnesses and obtaining CCTV, have been carried out since he disappeared on Monday 16 October.

However, there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of him in three months.

Superintendent Lisa Simpson said: “Our priority remains to find Scatchard alive and arrest him and any public information to help us achieve that aim will be gladly received. 

“We wish to question Scatchard about what happened to Kelly in the hours leading up to her death, information we desperately want to be able to give her family.

“There have been three months without proof of him being alive and that is an extremely long time.

“While these searches are partly being carried out with that in mind, we remain open minded that Scatchard may well still be alive and do not give up hope someone can provide crucial information that leads to his arrest.”

A timeline: 14-16 October 2023

Scatchard and Kelly went out together on the evening of Saturday 14 October in Minehead.

Due to Kelly being critically ill, Scatchard called the ambulance service to his home address in Blenheim Road at around 4.15am on Sunday 15 October.

Paramedics pronounced Kelly dead at the scene.

Officers spoke with Scatchard before leaving the property. When they returned the next day to speak further with Scatchard, he had disappeared.

Police believe Scatchard is a danger to women, specifically those he seeks a relationship with, and has been a regular user of dating apps. 

According to police, he has previous convictions for sexual offences in which he administered drugs to victims. 

Kelly’s death

The post-mortem was inconclusive in terms of establishing the cause of Kelly’s death, but the Major Crime Investigation Team is treating it as suspicious.

Supt Simpson said: “[Kelly’s family] need to know what happened to [her] and we are desperate to provide them with those answers as soon as we can.”

Search for Scatchard

After police spoke with Scatchard in Minehead on Sunday 15 October, he travelled to Watchet.

The last confirmed sighting of him on CCTV is in the Swain Street area at about 9am on Monday 16 October. 

The last confirmed sighting of him on CCTV is in the Swain Street area at about 9am on Monday 16 October. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

He was then seen by a member of the public an hour later, near his home address in Minehead. 

CCTV taken at around 10.15am on Monday 16 October shows a man riding a bike in North Road in Minehead, and turning left onto The Avenue. 

The identity of the man riding the bike remains unconfirmed.

Supt Simpson said: “The clothing worn by the cyclist, especially the black trainers with a blue heel, bears a strong resemblance to what Scatchard was seen wearing on CCTV in the proceeding hours.

“We therefore believe there is a strong chance the man in the photo is Scatchard and shows a bike, with silver handlebars, that he may have used.

Police believe there is a strong chance that the man in this photo is Scatchard. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

“We’d be particularly keen to hear from anyone who has seen a similar bike to that pictured, or alternatively believes they are the cyclist shown so we can eliminate that potential evidence from our enquiries if not relevant.”

A Crimestoppers reward for information that leads to Scatchard’s arrest was issued in December 2023 and remains live.

So far there have been around 100 unconfirmed reported sightings of Scatchard, predominantly in the West Somerset area.

However, in these cases, police say they have found it was a different individual or there is insufficient evidence and significant doubts whether the report was accurate.

Further searches

Now more resources are being committed to the search investigation.

Specialist officers, including the rope access team and police dogs, are being deployed at locations across the Minehead and West Somerset area for the next few weeks. 

Supt Simpson said: “We have worked with expert teams to plan a series of key searches over the coming weeks.

“These will be concentrating on a mix of previously covered areas, plus some more remote parts where access would be difficult or impossible without specialist training and equipment.

More resources are being committed to the search. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

“We are conscious that after three months, no confirmed sightings or proof of life that crucial clues as to what has happened to Scatchard may be found in a more inaccessible location, especially if he has come to harm, which a member of the public or previous searches would not ordinarily come across.

“Ultimately, we hope to find Scatchard alive so we can question him, and continue to urge the public to contact us if they see him.”

Police complaint

Police confirmed Kelly’s family made a complaint about their response on Wednesday 20 December.

Avon and Somerset Police voluntarily referred it to the IOPC on Thursday 4 January and told her family within 48 hours.

According to the force, the Professional Standards Department was notified of the incident and response given during the early stages of the inquiry, and they have promised to do all they can to assist the IOPC.