Tributes have poured in for Lewes murder victim Nicola Stevenson who was tragically found dead in a wheelie bin.
The 39-year-old mother-of-two’s body was discovered in a bin in undergrowth on the edge of the recreation ground off Landport Road by a dog walker last Wednesday (November 13). Police believe that it had been there for some time.
Richard Canlin, 41, unemployed and of no fixed address, has been charged with her murder, Sussex Police confirmed.
He appeared at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Monday via a video link and was due to appear at Hove Crown Court on Tuesday, however, the hearing was adjourned in his absence to Tuesday, November 26, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed.
Police also arrested a second man in connection with the murder in a car park in Langney Road, Eastbourne on Thursday evening (November 14).
They confirmed the 37-year-old man, of no fixed address, was questioned and then released on police bail until December 12.
Forensic teams also set up tents near the railway lines in Ashford Square, Eastbourne on Friday, as part of the investigation.
Ms Stevenson’s death was initially treated as unexplained, but a post-mortem found she died as a result of a blunt force trauma to her head.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Friday, from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, who is leading the investigation, said: “Our thoughts at this time are with Nicola’s family and friends and we are determined to seek justice for them.
“Nicola died following a significant blow to the head. Her body had been placed in the wheelie bin and dumped in the undergrowth and we want to establish when that happened and when she was last seen alive.
“We know that the bin was probably there on November 1.
“Our initial appeal prompted a number of calls around the wheelie bin and I would like to thank everyone who has called in.
“We would still welcome any more information around any aspect of the investigation, but I am really interested to hear from anyone who saw her after around the first week of October.”
Search and forensic teams are continuing to work at the recreation ground and also at Ms Stevenson’s home in nearby Stansfield Road, police said.
DCI Friday continued: “The investigation teams have been working tirelessly to progress this case and ensure justice is sought for Nicola and her family and friends.
“Despite the charging of a man, we are still desperate to hear from anyone who may be able to add to our investigation timeline.
“We are urging anyone who saw Nicola before her body was found to come forward to us as you may hold vital information to aid our ongoing investigation.
“For those of you living in local community to Nicola, you will still see our officers out and about conducting enquiries; please do go and speak to them if you have anything to add.”
“Alternatively please report online or call 101 quoting Operation Stafford.”
The Express understands Ms Stevenson was a recovering cancer patient who moved to her home in Stansfield Road, Lewes about a year ago.
She is belived to originally hail from Edinburgh and was a former pupil of Balerno High School in the city, our sister paper The Scotsman has reported.
Her final Facebook post was on October 9.
‘So sad, that poor girl, may she be at peace’
Local people have shared their shock and distress on the Express Facebook page and have paid tribute to the mother.
Jennifer Howells said: “Seems like she is a victim of an awful crime, so sorry for her family having to go through this nightmare, RIP young lady.
Susie Arlett said: “So so tragic, prayers and thoughts with her family and friends.”
Zoe Baker commented: “So so sad that poor girl may she be at peace now.” Kate Cackett also said: “Feel for family and friends absolutely awful.”
Bimmie Saunders wrote on the Lewes Police Facebook Page: “To think it could have been weeks ... so so sad xx I know the bonfire crews would have checked quite thoroughly around the area on the week leading up to the 5th so horrible to think the poor lady was either already there, way out of sight or left there since:( thoughts with her family and friends at this tragic time xx”
Emma Whitney added: “Horrible thought though, so many people in the area celebrating bonfire, walk past the park and swap area in the alleyway many times, take kids and dog down the park, and she just lay there in a bin unnoticed. Feel for the woman and her family that are now going through hell I imagine.”
Mel Payne wrote: “My heart goes out to the lady, and her family and friends. What a dreadful thing.”
Laurie Woolgar said: “What a terrible way to end your life .to treat someone with such cruelty after ending their life, poor lady.”
Denise Welch added: “So sad and thoughts must go out to her family and friends. What a way to end your life to be found in a bin feel for the person who found her there, must be in shock .”
Aelfrieda Wessex wrote: “Really, really shocking. Had she not been reported missing? How tragic that the poor soul’s life ended in a bin, where she was only found by chance. My heart goes out to the individual that found her.”
A Lewes Town Council spokesman said: “The council is understandably shocked and we understand the feelings among the public. We are confident that the police investigation will be carried out professionally and we all look forward to learning more facts.”