Police officers have been commended for bringing an Eastbourne killer to justice.
A major investigation was launched after the body of Tracy Patsalides was found in a beach shelter in June 2018. She was 40-years-old.
Wayne Marshall was eventually found guilty of the vulnerable homeless woman’s manslaughter, and jailed for 14 years.
Now the officers who gathered evidence for the investigation, called Operation Casio, have been commended for their work.
Detective Constable Victoria Huxtable, crime scene manager Sarah Rackliff, exhibits and disclosure officer Lorna Strudwick, and Detective Constable Dawn Robertson were praised for their “crucial roles in securing justice” at a police award’s ceremony.
Sussex Police said Sarah Rackliff used her skills, knowledge and experience to take relevant forensic samples from the deceased and the large seafront crime scene.
The force said in a statement, “Sarah was aware that robbery of a bank card in the same area happened the night before and noted the deceased bank card was discovered at the scene and checked it for forensic opportunities.
“The robbery suspect was in custody and there was nothing to link him to the murder, but within 24 hours the results came back and matched his DNA profile. This was key to the case progressing at a fast rate.
“Sarah took ownership of the forensic contribution to the operation and frequently exceeded expectations of her role.”
Meanwhile Detective Constable Victoria Huxtable was the case officer.
Sussex Police said she was “thorough and hardworking”, ensuring all lines of enquiry were pursued, ensuring the investigation progressed, and displaying unwavering commitment.
It said, “Victoria supported the case at trial and the judge was very complimentary of her work stating that it was in no small part to her outstanding work that a manslaughter verdict resulted.”
Lorna Strudwick worked alongside Victoria, “demonstrating the highest levels of knowledge and expertise”.
“The police disclosure arrangements radiated professionalism from the outset. At the time Lorna had four major crime trials at court simultaneously but she made sure each case officer was fully supported.”
And DC Robertson was the Family Liaison Officer who made sure the victim’s family were kept up to date throughout.
Sussex Police said, “She travelled to their home frequently and often at short notice, to make sure sensitive information was delivered in person.
“The effectiveness of Dawn’s work was reflected in the gratitude shown by the family after the court verdict.”
Tributes to Tracy
In a statement released through Sussex Police after her death, Tracy’s family said, “Our lovely daughter Tracy was taken from us in the most cruel way. We feel devastated and numb.
“When Tracy was a child she was always happy and smiling. Tracy would readily share her toys, food, love and possessions with her friends. She had a generous and loving nature that was sometimes taken advantage of. She thought of everyone as a friend.
“Tracy liked to travel and made many friends up and down the country throughout the years. Our thanks goes to all those good people who were her friends along the way.
“Tracy was a mother to Joshua, a sister to Samantha, an auntie to Milly, Sam and Lennox, a niece to auntie May, and a beloved daughter to Teresa and Jimmy.
“Our thanks and appreciation goes to all the police who have been involved with this case and also been of great support to us.”