The family of murdered grandmother Nora Tait have been promised detectives will never give up on their case - that has remained unsolved for almost seven-and-a-half years.
The senior officer leading the investigation revealed at her inquest yesterday how police have followed up 3,326 lines of inquiry involving 2,600 people since the 69-year-old was found battered to death at her home in Stone Close Avenue, Hexthorpe, on October 13, 2005.
Medical evidence at the hearing revealed the ‘feisty’ pensioner had tried to fight off her attacker, who used a blunt weapon which has never been recovered.
No fewer than nine suspects have been arrested in connection with Mrs Tait’s murder, but a QC has advised police they have insufficient evidence to bring anyone to trial.
And detectives have never identified a mystery man known locally as ‘Knock-Off Lad’ who often visited Mrs Tait’s terraced home offering to sell her food stuffs believed to be stolen.
Mrs Tait, a retired seamstress, is believed to have been killed in her dining room, the day before her body was found by Leslie Mills, the son of one of her close friends.
He found the front door unlocked and discovered her body near an uneaten fish and chips lunch. Mrs Tait’s purse had been stolen and has also not been found.
The post-mortem examination carried out by Home Office pathologist Philip Lumb showed the cause of death was head injuries caused by repeated blunt force trauma delivered with a weapon.
Dr Lumb said bones in Mrs Tait’s hand were also fractured, which showed ‘she clearly attempted to defend herself and had her hands up to fend off blows’.
One of Mrs Tait’s four children, Jayne Watson, told the inquest: “She would have put up a fight. She was quite a feisty lady for her age, she had a temper.”
The police officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Supt Neil Jessop, said the reason for the seven-year delay in resuming the full inquest was because new leads kept coming in, including ones after the case featured on Crimewatch in 2010.
He told the family: “South Yorkshire Police will never give up on this investigation and I am convinced that out there is someone who knows a friend, associate, family member or partner who is responsible for the murder of Nora Tait. We are convinced of that, which is why it will never be closed.”
The inquest was adjourned to locate a witness who failed to attend the hearing.