Urgent appeal to trace James Allen over murders in Whitby and Middlesbrough

The Northern Echo: Police at the scene of the murder of Julie Davison in Church Square, in Whitby, North Yorkshire Police at the scene of the murder of Julie Davison in Church Square, in Whitby, North Yorkshire

POLICE were tonight hunting a 35-year-old man in connection with two brutal murders.

More than 100 officers are involved in the search for James Allen following the deaths of Colin Dunford in Middlesbrough on Monday and Julie Davison in Whitby, North Yorkshire, yesterday.

Allen is known to police and members of the public are urged not to approach him but dial 999.

Detectives have described the killings as two brutal murders in the victim's own homes.

Cleveland Police and North Yorkshire Police issued a joint appeal to find Allen after officers linked the two murders.

Earlier today, detectives in Whitby said Ms Davison, 50, was found dead by her sister at her flat in Church Square. She had suffered serious head injuries.

Mr Dunford, 81, was found dead at his home in Leven Street, Middlesbrough, on Monday.

A post-mortem examination showed he had also suffered serious head injuries as a result of a significant assault.

Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang, head of crime operations for Cleveland Police, said: "We now believe the Middlesbrough murder is linked to the murder that took place in Whitby yesterday.

"Two brutal murders in the victims' own homes.

"Anyone who can carry out such callous acts needs to be caught as a matter of urgency.

"We have over 100 officers working on the incident to trace Allen and we are focusing our efforts in Cleveland and in the Whitby area of North Yorkshire.

"Anyone who sees him or who knows where he is, we would ask them to contact 999 immediately."

Allen is described as 5ft 7ins, with a bald head and tattoos on both arms.

Earlier, detectives in Whitby said they do not know why Ms Davison was killed.

Although born in the seaside town, she only moved back to the resort from Lancashire last year.

Speaking near the cordoned-off scene, Detective Chief Inspector Kerrin Smith, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "This was a brutal murder of a lady who lived on her own and the motive behind it is unknown at this moment, but we are exploring all possibilities.

"She was found with head injuries serious enough to cause her death."

The detective said Ms Davison, who had a grown-up son, rented the property from a housing association.

North Yorkshire Police said Ms Davison's body was found at 12.40pm yesterday.

Officers said they wanted a man with a dark-coloured mountain bike to come forward.

He was seen near the flats in the square at around 6.30am yesterday morning.

The scene remained sealed off this afternoon.

There was a large police presence, with four vehicles parked behind the cordon, including a mobile office.

The property, a red-brick building converted into flats, is opposite the Church of St Hilda.

It is in an area of bed-and-breakfasts and guest houses.

On Tuesday, police in Middlesbrough said the man now known to be Mr Dunford was found dead at his terraced house after he failed to appear at his favourite club.

Locals said the dead man was a daily visitor to the Samuelson's Working Mans Club directly opposite his home, which was cordoned off and guarded by police.

It was believed that when Mr Dunford was not seen at the club where he often ate his evening meal, members became worried and the police were called.

Detectives said there was no sign of forced entry at the house.

Mr Dunford was last seen alive at around 5pm on Sunday.

Andy Mallett, of Samuelson's Working Mans Club, said he raised the alarm when Mr Dunford failed to turn up for his regular two-and-a-half pints of beer for two nights running.

Earlier this week, he said: "He had not been in last night or the night before, which was out of character for him.

"We went round to the house and knocked, but could not get hold of him so we rang police.

"They later came and interviewed everyone in the club and asked for our CCTV footage."

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