A DEDICATED team of crime scene investigators and volunteers who probed the murder of tragic Jia Ashton has been commended at an awards ceremony.
Scores of detectives, forensic experts, police search teams and Mountain Rescue volunteers who worked tirelessly to investigate the 25-year-old’s death were honoured by Derbyshire police’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon during the ceremony in Ripley.
Ch Con Creedon said: “This was a challenging case from the outset and everyone commended thoroughly deserved to be recognised for their hard work, dedication and professionalism. Nothing can bring Jia back to her family but the investigation team worked round-the-clock to make sure her killer was caught and jailed.”
Economics graduate Mrs Ashton was found dead in Sleetmoor woods in Somercotes on March 13 – three days after she disappeared while walking home from the nearby Thorntons chocolate factory – resulting in a complex eight-week hunt for her killer.
Officers and Mountain Rescue volunteers spent three days scouring the woods and surrounding area before a search dog found Jia’s petite body hidden inside a makeshift hide of branches, leaves and twigs.
Specialist search officers combed the woods and found her property strewn among trees and bushes.
Crucially the forensic team found tiny traces of DNA and a fingerprint on Jia’s belongings which led to her killer – David Simmonds.
The 21-year-old admitted the brutal murder in October and was jailed for life.
l Ch Con Creedon awarded certificates to Det Supt Terry Branson, Det Insp Sean Dawson, temporary Det Sgt Joanne James, Det Con Matthew Vernon, Det Con Adam Suett, DetCon Craig Walker, Det Insp Emlyn Richards, analyst Liam Morris and forensic scientist Amanda Reed.
Derby and Buxton Mountain Rescue teams were represented by Steve Hilditch and temporary Sgt David Mason with search dog Megan; uniform task force were represented by Sgt Simon Froud and Tony Coombes,
Dawn Lane and Mark Crowther accepted the commendation on behalf of scientific support.