Homeless community praised for helping catch Eastbourne woman’s killer

Tracy had been living in a seafront shelter at the time of her killing
Tracy had been living in a seafront shelter at the time of her killing

Police have praised the homeless community in Eastbourne after their evidence helped secure the conviction of a man who killed one of their number.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Pirie, who led the investigation into the death of Tracy Patsalides, criticised the ‘lack of public interest’ in the killing.

The lack of public interest in a murder trial is a sad reflection on the plight of scores of homeless people

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Pirie

He called it a ‘sad reflection on the plight of scores of homeless people’.

Tracy’s body was found by police in a seafront shelter at 2.55am on June 12 this year. She was 40 years old.

Wayne Marshall was yesterday found guilty of manslaughter.

Marshall, 38, of no fixed address was cleared of murdering her and robbing his friend after a 12-day trial.

Click here for a recap of the trial

In the early hours of Tuesday, June 12 police officers’ attention was drawn to a seafront shelter close to King Edward Parade where they found her body.

Police enquiries established that Marshall had violently attacked another rough sleeper during the course of the evening and his protracted aggressive behaviour was observed by a number of witnesses, police said.

Extensive forensic examinations at the scene linked him to the death of Tracy.

He will be sentenced for the killing on Friday.

DCI Pirie said: “The lack of public interest in a murder trial is a sad reflection on the plight of scores of homeless people whose lives go on often largely unseen by many who are in a much more fortunate position.

“I regret that until this investigation, I was probably was one of those people, albeit that my work as a police officer brought me into contact with homeless people more than most.

“I would like to thank the witnesses in this case for their courage in giving evidence and expressing themselves so personably and articulately in the witness box, enabling the jury to see Wayne Marshall for what he really is – a violent man who has deprived those who knew Tracy of a mother, daughter, sister and friend.

“Tracy and her family and friends deserve this verdict and I sincerely hope that its repercussions, besides bringing justice and hopefully, some closure to them, may in some small way focus attention on the extent of the issues facing the homeless community and the charities who support them.”

Speaking shortly after her death, Tracy’s family issued an emotional tribute to her.

They praised their ‘always happy and smiling’ daughter who was ‘taken in the most cruel way’.