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The BBC's James Helm
"Forensic tests showed the fire was started deliberately"
 real 56k

Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 21:25 GMT
Murder inquiry into pensioner's death
Police at Alfred Wilkins' house
Alfred Wilkins' house had been vandalised
Police have launched a murder inquiry after a pensioner was found dead in his burnt-out flat.

Alfred Wilkins had been harassed at his Grimsby home since being charged with a sex offence, for which he was later acquitted, Humberside Police said.


We do need to hear from anyone who knew Alfred Wilkins

Humberside Police spokesman
An 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl have been arrested and are being questioned in connection with the fire.

Forensic tests showed the fire had been started deliberately, said police.

The graffiti and vandalism at the 67-year-old's home had become so bad that the police and the local council were due to re-house him.

His windows at his flat on the Yarborough Estate were smashed and abuse daubed on walls.

Aquitted

The former merchant seaman was last year acquitted of indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl between January and October 1999.

Mr Wilkins, who had no previous convictions, walked free from Grimsby Crown Court.

A friend of the pensioner found Mr Wilkins dead in his flat with his pet dog on Friday.

His friend and neighbour, Owen Lawson, said Mr Wilkins had faced trouble since the trial.

He told a local paper: "Some people didn't like him but I take people as I find them."

Police appeal

Officers have appealed for a woman who rang from a callbox on Friday at 2000GMT to come forward.

A police spokesman said: "We do need to hear from anyone who knew Alfred Wilkins or can assist in piecing together his moves in the last couple of weeks."

The police incident room is 01472 362777.

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