Residents of a quiet, leafy estate in Horsell have been shocked to find themselves the centre of a media circus following the suspected murder of a ten-year-old girl.
Hammond Road in Horsell is a typical residential estate with nicely manicured lawns and frequent dog walkers. But in the early hours of Thursday, August 10 police descended on a house where a ten year old was allegedly murdered just before 3am.
The community has been rocked by the murder, with many residents expressing their heartbreak and devastation over the loss of the young girl. But while a major investigation, led by Surrey Police and Sussex Police’s Major Crime Team, is underway, the police are not the only people knocking on doors.
News cameras, a throng of reporters and even a news helicopter flying overhead greeted the Woking News and Mail when we attended the scene on Friday, August 11.
Many of the residents we spoke too had already had several reporters come knocking – with one disgruntled resident sticking a sign to his front door that said: "The next nosy prat who knocks on this door is going to end up in the hospital."
A neighbour, who lived opposite the family and wished to remain anonymous, said: "Me and my family are scared to go out the house because of the press."
The neighbour, who had already spoken to the police and several members of the press, explained that none of her family has slept properly over the last few days because of the stress of the tragic incident and the media presence.
Many blinds and curtains were drawn on Hammond Road and the surrounding lanes, with even more residents refusing to open their door to the seemingly never-ending reporter calls.
A group of reporters gathered outside the house on Hammond Road, including the Woking News and Mail, The Sun and Surrey Live to name a few, to share what information they had gathered.
The consensus was that most residents did not know the family, but were deeply saddened and disturbed by the alleged murder. There was a general sense of confusion from several neighbours who had rarely seen the six children supposedly living at the house, with several rumours and questions being circled.
The neighbour who lived opposite the house said the young couple with six children had moved into the house only five/six months ago and seemed a "normal, happy family". She added that there was another adult man living with them but that she didn't know what his connection to the family was.
On the night the death occurred, she remembered seeing both cars (which other residents said were two BMWs, including a black X5) parked outside the house. But when she woke up on the Thursday morning, neither car was there and the police were enquiring on the family's whereabouts.
The police have said the family has been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers.
Several bouquets of flowers with touching cards have been laid in tribute and sympathy outside the house. One resident said he would be going to buy some flowers in honour of the girl because it "was the right thing to do".
There were tears from the family who lived on Hammond Close, the road behind the house, and whose garden backed onto the girl's garden. The mother said: "It is deeply upsetting. The kids were all really sweet and the mother was lovely. The whole neighbourhood is really shocked and can't believe it has happened."
Another resident of the estate, William Yorath, said: "This is awful. It will affect the whole community. I've been here 19 years and haven't ever experienced this sort of thing."
There was a considerable police presence with the house remaining cordoned off and several police patrolling and door-knocking the area.