Detectives appeal for information on Penny Bell's murder 30 years on

Detectives probing 30-year-old unsolved murder of Penny Bell reveal new witness saw man in his underwear crossing bridge on day she was stabbed 50 times in her car

  • Penny Bell was found dead in her car at the Gurnell Leisure Centre in Ealing on June 6, 1991
  • Her killer has never been caught and police and the family have appealed for anyone with any information to come forward
  • On Wednesday, detectives revealed that a new witness had come forward in January 2019 saying she’d seen a man in his underwear on the day of the killing
  • The man was in his early 30s, tall, tanned and wearing blue striped boxer shorts, a white t-shirt and a chunky chain link bracelet, and carrying a rucksack
  • He was seen crossing a footbridge on the A40 Western Avenue in Greenford 

Detectives investigating the 30-year-old murder of Penny Bell in Greenford have revealed that a witness came forward to say they saw a man in his underwear on the day she was killed.

The mum-of-two was stabbed more than 50 times while in her car at the Gurnell Leisure Centre in Ealing on June 6, 1991.

Her killer has never been caught.

Detective Sergeant Susan Stansfield, from the Met’s Special Casework Investigation Team, appeared on BBC One’s Crimewatch Live on Wednesday to share the latest on the case. 

DS Stansfield revealed that in January 2019, a new witness came forward to report that they believed they had seen a man in his underwear walking across the footbridge that crosses the A40 Western Avenue in Greenford on the day Bell was killed.

The man appeared wet, as if he had just washed, according to the witness, who recalled seeing the man at around 10.50am to 10.55am. 

The witness described the man as being in his early 30s, tall and tanned with short brown hair which was lighter on top.

He was wearing blue striped boxer shorts, a white t-shirt and a chunky chain link bracelet, and was carrying a rucksack.

DS Stansfield and her team would like to hear from anyone else who may recall witnessing something similar. 

Detectives investigating the 30-year-old murder of Penny Bell (pictured) in Greenford have revealed that a witness came forward to say they saw a man in his underwear on the day she was killed

‘Following some previous media coverage, a new witness has come forward with what I would call very significant information that might help us catch Penny’s killer.

‘She didn’t see any of the media coverage or reporting at the time and has now put two and two together and spoken to a member of my team, DS Stansfield said.

‘Did you also see something odd at the time that you now might think is connected? Or did you also see this man in his underwear and think nothing of it?

‘If so, we need to speak to you as soon as possible.’

In the months leading up to Bell’s death, extensive building work was being carried out at the property where he lived in Denham, Buckinghamshire, with her husband and two children.  

Bell, 43, was said to have kept a meticulous record of the spending on the building work.

Three days before her death, Bell went to a bank in Kilburn High Road and withdrew £8,500 in cash from her joint personal account.

The money was paid to Bell in used £50 notes and handed to her wrapped in a brown manila envelope.

It is believed that Bell did not mention this withdrawal to anyone, nor did she refer to it in her financial notes.

To date, the £8,500 is unaccounted for and the reason for its withdrawal remains unknown. 

On the day of her death, Bell appeared to be in more of a hurry than usual and told one of the builders working at her home that she had an appointment she could not miss. 

She was last seen leaving home at 9.40am in her pale blue Jaguar XJS.  

At around midday, police were called to Gurnell Grove Swimming Pool over reports of a woman slumped in the driver’s seat of her car, covered in blood. 

Bell was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Witnesses had seen Bell slumped over in the vehicle at 11.05am but thought she was asleep. Some 300 people used the car park at the leisure centre that day.

Bell was found slumped across the passenger seat. Her grey handbag was open and placed behind the front passenger seat. 

Nothing appeared to have been stolen from the bag, which contained all of Penny’s personal effects and did not appear to have been rummaged through.

Under Bell’s body on the centre console of the car was a wallpaper sample, which officers believe had been opened there as if Bell were looking at it or showing it to someone else before the attack.

A post-mortem revealed that Bell had suffered more than 50 stab wounds.

She was last seen leaving home at 9.40am in her pale blue Jaguar XJS (pictured). At around midday, police were called to Gurnell Grove Swimming Pool over reports of a woman slumped in the driver’s seat of her car, covered in blood. Bell was pronounced dead at the scene

‘It was a clear and sunny day on the morning that Penny was killed and it’s estimated that around 300 people are believed to have used the car park or leisure facilities, meaning that there should have been plenty of witnesses who could help our investigation,’ DS Stansfield said. 

‘Approximately 250 people who had used the leisure facilities between 9am and 11am were interviewed and eliminated. Over 60 drivers are known to have parked their cars in the car park during this time.

‘No one interviewed had witnessed the attack or the killer’s escape, it’s almost as if they vanished into thin air.’ 

Speaking to Crimewatch, Bell’s daughter Lauren said: ’30 years marks an extremely painful milestone but with the help of Crimewatch and their viewers, we could be one step away from finding the perpetrator who still walks among us.

‘Any information would be life-changing for us as a family and a result would mean we could finally find closure.’   

A £20,000 reward remains available to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of the killer. 

Over the years a number of people have come forward claiming to have seen a Jaguar car similar to Bell’s in Greenford Road the morning of her death driving erratically.

Another witness contacted police to report a possible sighting of Bell at Black Park, Iver, Buckinghamshire, on Thursday 6 June about 9.40am. 

She describes how a woman fitting Bell’s description, driving an identical car met with the driver of a bronze saloon car in Fulmar Common Road. She was sure from the subsequent publicity that it was Bell.

Another witness claimed that between 9.50am and 10am he also saw a pale blue Jaguar XJS parked in Fulmar Common Road. 

  

Anyone with information should call the Met Police on 0208 7858267. It

can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling the

independent charity on 0800 555 111.     

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