Donald Ralph death: Man and boy, 16, charged with murder after pensioner found strangled

A 16-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man have been charged with murder over the death of a pensioner who was strangled.

The body of Donald Ralph, 83, was found at his home in the village of Aldham, near Colchester in Essex, on Tuesday.

His family have described him as a “unique character” – a man who loved being in the countryside and was “very young at heart”.

A hearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court is set to take place on Monday.

Leighton Snook, 28, of no fixed address, and the 16-year-old suspect, from Leicester, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are due to appear in court charged with Mr Ralph’s murder.

They have both also been charged with the theft of a motor vehicle. Snook faces an extra charge of possession of an offensive weapon.

Essex Police previously said Mr Ralph’s car, a blue Volvo V50 which was stolen from outside his home, was later found in Hastings, East Sussex.

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.

Mr Ralph died from strangulation, according to a postmortem.

His niece, Tina Ralph, said: “Don was very young at heart, a 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 be much missed by his wide circle of friends, and all his family.”

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