A RETIRED detective helped provide vital evidence to crack a murder that happened 26 years ago and more than 250 miles away.

Brian Watts came forward to present details to officers in West Yorkshire about an attack on a 77-year-old woman in her home in Somerton in April 1977.

The frail victim was left with a fractured jaw and other facial injuries, while the culprit stole cash and other items.

Detectives in Bradford had failed to solve the 1994 murder of 86-year-old Amy Shepherd in her sheltered accommodation in Folly Hall Gardens, Wisbey.

But a cold case examination and advances in DNA profiling helped them identify a suspect, although they needed further evidence to strengthen their case - which is where Mr Watts came in.

He outlined the similarities in the Somerton attack and the Bradford murder to West Yorkshire detectives and his evidence helped convict Raymond Kay.

Kay, now 71, and previously of Baker Fold, Halifax,, was jailed for life after being found guilty following his trial.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Twiggs, from West Yorkshire Police, said: "It was clear from the outset that Brian was more than willing to help in the case and to attend Bradford Crown Court to give his evidence if required. (In the end Brian wasn’t required to attend court).

"There is no doubt that Brian’s evidence helped bring Kay to justice – it was very impactive.

"The greatest possible tribute I can pay to Brian is that on Tuesday, May 21 (last year), Kay was found guilty of the murder of Amy Shepherd and sentenced to life imprisonment, finally giving closure to Amy’s family."

Mr Watts has now received a prestigious Chief Constable's Awards for this assistance in the case.

The citation to him reads: "In recognition of your commitment and dedication to policing.

"Over 30 years after your retirement, you assisted West Yorkshire Police officers during investigations.

"The vital historical evidence you provided, led to the conviction and imprisonment of Raymond Kay, for the murder of Amy Shepherd."