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Heartbroken neighbours speak of their shock after great-grandmother stabbed to death

By Jamie Brassington | Walsall | Crime | Published:

‘She was an amazing, kind and much-loved part of our family’.

Anne James was found dead in her home in Highgate, Walsall

Heartbroken neighbours joined relatives to pay tribute to a great-grandmother was found dead in her home prompting a murder investigation.

Anne James, aged 74, was discovered collapsed at Doveridge Place in Highgate, Walsall, on Wednesday night by paramedics.

Detectives believe she was stabbed to death in what they described as a ‘shocking, violent attack’ but yesterday said the motives were unclear.

Neighbours described Anne as a ‘lovely’ woman who enjoyed gardening and was fond of cats. She lived at the address with her husband.

A statement put out by the family, in an emotional tribute, said: “We are all devastated at the loss of a loving wife, mum, grandma and great grandma.

“She was an amazing, generous, kind, and much-loved part of our family; she will be very sadly missed.”

Paramedics were called to the address at around 6.15pm on Wednesday where Mrs James was found collapsed on the floor.

She was pronounced dead at the scene and police said early indications suggested she had suffered knife injuries, although a post mortem will take place to establish the exact cause of death.

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The house has been sealed off for forensic examinations, while detectives have urged anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area on Wednesday night to come forward with any information.

Forensic police were yesterday combing the scenes for clues as the house and several walkways around it were cordoned off.

Chief Inspector Jason Anderson, who oversees local policing in Walsall, tweeted: “A horrific crime which is at an early investigative stage with detectives and forensics working through the scene.

“The motive is unclear at this time. Our officers are providing visible reassurance to the community.”

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Detective Superintendent Tom Chisholm, from West Midlands Police Homicide Team, said: “Mrs James has been described as a kind and loving lady.

“Her family are devastated and can’t understand how anyone could do her any harm. We suspect Mrs James was attacked at some stage from late morning to 5pm yesterday.” According to the Companies House website, Mrs James held three directorships of local charities from 1996 to the mid 2000s. She was listed as a director at Wolverhampton Clothesline, which helps homeless people, and The Haven Wolverhampton which looks after vulnerable women and children.

Mrs James was also a director of the Walsall Youth Arts until is was forced to close down in 2011.

Her neighbours said she lived at the address with her husband ‘Jim’.

Mohammed Bashir, aged 42, who lives on Sandwell Street, said: “They were a good family and a good couple. They liked gardening and making their garden look nice. She was also very found of cats. This incident is absolutely shocking. It has come to a shock for the whole street.”

Fellow family member Mudassara Ellahi, 36, said: “It is very sad, especially as a neighbour to me, I feel really sorry for her husband and family.”

A 26-year-old man, who also lives on Sandwell Street, said: “It is very shocking. They were very lovely people. They were normal, ordinary people.” The house was once home to a poet called Sir Henry Newbolt who lived there from 1866 to 1869. A blue plaque on the side of the house says Sir Newbolt is famous for his poem called ‘Drake’s Drum’.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting log number 1636 28/2 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Ms James’ death is the latest in Walsall and follows a campaign launched by the Express & Star this month calling for tougher punishment on knife crime.

To sign the petition visit the website.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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