A ‘dangerous’ sex offender who went missing after the death of a woman could be dead, police detectives have said.
Richard Scatchard, aged 70, went on the run after Kelly Faiers died following an ambulance call-out to his home in Minehead on Sunday, 15 October.
The 61-year-old’s death was quickly made subject of a murder investigation by police - but despite nationwide appeals to find Scatchard and a £10,000 Crimestoppers reward, there have been no confirmed sightings.
Scatchard is also wanted by police over a recall to prison over an alleged breach of conditions relating to previous convictions for drugging women and sexual abuse.
In an update issued on Monday, Avon and Somerset Police’s Superintendent Lisa Simpson said the force was remaining opened minded over Scatchard still being alive, adding that he may have “come to harm”.
Extra officers have been brought in for a search of areas across Minehead and West Somerset to cover remote areas where previous searches may have not gone. The latest search is expected to last several weeks.
Supt Simpson said: “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.”
The force also confirmed it had received a complaint from the family of Ms Faiers, as exclusively reported by The Independent earlier this month.
Her children - Jazmin Faiers, Tania Jackson, Laurie Perry and son Michael Faiers - accused police of letting Scatchard go by not detaining him when initially attending his address during the emergency call-out for Ms Faiers.
They also said the force should have shared Scatchard’s previous convictions sooner in the appeal to find him. The force has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
On the search for Scatchard, Avon and Somerset Police said it had received 100 unconfirmed sightings in the West Somerset area.
A post-mortem examination in October proved inconclusive in terms of establishing the cause of Ms Faier’s death. Further tests are being carried out and the force is treating the mother’s death as suspicious.
Karen MacDonald from Crimestoppers, said: “This man is dangerous and needs to be found urgently. If you know where he is, but prefer not to talk to the police, you can contact our charity and tell us anonymously what you know.”
Scatchard is white, about 5ft 11ins tall, of average build with short grey hair. He has a Scottish accent and has previously claimed to be called Richard Dunlop. Given the amount of time since his last sighting, however, there is a chance he may look dishevelled.
Anyone who sees Scatchard should not approach him, but call 999 and provide the call handler with the reference 5223259285. Anyone who may know where he may be, should call 101 and give the same reference number.