Boy, 16, and man, 28, charged with murder of pensioner strangled to death in his own home

Donald Ralph, 83, was murdered at his home in Essex. (Essex Police)
Donald Ralph, 83, was murdered at his home in Essex. (Essex Police)

A 16-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man have been charged with murdering a pensioner in his own home earlier this week.

Donald Ralph, 83, was found dead at his house in the village of Aldham, near Colchester, Essex, on Tuesday.

A post-mortem examination found he died from strangulation.

Essex Police launched an urgent manhunt shortly afterwards and appealed for information that would lead to the arrest of Leighton Snook who was believed to have stolen Mr Ralph’s Volvo and fled the scene.

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The car was later found in Hastings, East Sussex and on Sunday the force said that Snook and a 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been charged with Mr Ralph’s murder and theft of a motor vehicle

Snook, of no fixed address, also faces a charge of possession of an offensive weapon.

Both Snook and the teenage boy will appear at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday 4 January.

Two men, aged 30 and 39, and a 21-year-old woman, have been released on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Paying tribute, Mr Ralph’s family said he loved being in the countryside and was “very young at heart”.

His niece, Tina Ralph, said: “Don was a very young at heart, fit 83-year-old, with boundless energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment of life.

“He was a man who loved all things countryside, particularly fishing and the Norfolk Broads, as well as being an avid bird lover.

“He loved horse racing and spent many a happy Saturday having a little flutter.

“Don was a unique character, who will much missed by his wide circle of friends, and all his family.”