Léa Brooke murder: Fresh appeal from police a decade after fatal fire

L�a Brooke.
L�a Brooke.

The family of a widow who was murdered in her sleep have issued a fresh appeal to help find her killer.

Mother-of-five Léa Florentina Brooke, 81, was killed when white spirit was poured through her letterbox and set alight, just after 1.30am on November 10, 2008.

Sandal Grange Farm, Walton Lane, Sandal

Sandal Grange Farm, Walton Lane, Sandal

A decade on, the killer of the much loved and respected community figure is still free.

Suzanne Brindley, Léa’s oldest daughter, said: “It’s very sad that we don’t know why she died. We were all absolutely distraught, all sorts of things went through our heads. It was very hard for us to understand why anybody would want to do this to our mother.”

Mrs Brooke, who would now have 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, was an active member of her community, and had served as the district president of the Inner Wheel Club of Wakefield, a role that Suzanne, 71, has recently taken on.

Suzanne said that the family cannot find peace until they have answers. She said: “We still talk a lot about her. The sad thing is when you see somebody walking with an elderly relative and you feel that she’s missing, that she’s not there any more.

Suzanne Brindley said that her family will not find peace until they have answers.

Suzanne Brindley said that her family will not find peace until they have answers.

“Mum was a great person to use the telephone.

“It was quite difficult to realise I couldn’t use the phone to talk to her, or even go round and see her.

“I’ve enormously missed ringing her, telling her when things had happened.

“I’d like anybody who has information, however small, to come forward again. If you’ve got a sudden memory, or your circumstances have changed, please can you help us.”

L�a Brooke, pictured centre right, with her family before her death.

L�a Brooke, pictured centre right, with her family before her death.

On the night of the fire, Léa was alone in her house on Walton Lane, Sandal, where she had lived for more than 25 years.

A motive for her murder has never been established.

Police believe that the intended target of the fire may have been her son, Howard, who ran his business from the house and often stayed there, though they are still unclear why he would have been targeted.

Detectives from the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team are reviewing evidence collected as part of the large scale investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson, who is leading the review, said: “The murder of Léa Brooke, an 81-year-old mother and grandmother, remains in the public consciousness locally to this day.

“On this, the tenth anniversary of Léa’s death, we and Léa’s family are asking for members of the public to come forward who we may not have spoken to before or for whatever reason didn’t tell us everything they knew.

“Léa was a very popular and much loved pillar of the local community and this is a crime which has always appeared motiveless.

“The impact of her death on her five children and extended family was immense and continues to be to this day.

“I think that someone within this local area has more information to tell us than they have so far.

“The Walton and Sandal area is quite a close knit community, people talk about events within the community. “

Anyone with any information should contact the homicide and major enquiry team on 1010, referencing Operation Pitkennedy.

Information can also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A decade on from the fatal fire: answers still lie within the community

It was just after 1.30am, almost exactly 10 years ago that Léa Brooke’s killer walked up to the front door of her home, built by her late husband, and poured flamable liguid through the letterbox and started the fatal fire

Léa was sleeping at the Old Coach House on Walton Lane, Sandal.

She had lived in the house, which had been built by her late husband Lindsay Brooke , for 25 years.

At the time of the incident the family told the Express: “Léa will be sadly missed by her family and friends and all who knew her.

“She was born in Belgium and came to live in Wakefield nearly 60 years ago after marrying the late Lindsay Brooke, a local building contractor.

“She met Lindsay in the Belgian village of Herentals while he was serving in the Army during the Second World War.

“She quickly settled into life in Wakefield, learning English and soon became involved in community affairs, as well as bringing up her large family.”

Léa’s house was situated on a small development, hidden from the main road by trees and fields, and it was several minutes before anyone raised the alarm.

By the time fire crews arrived, 80 percent of the house was engulfed in flames.

About 25 firefighters, from Wakefield, Ossett, Featherstone and Normanton battled the blaze, but it was too late for Léa.

The 81-year-old had died in her sleep. She would never get to meet her first great-grandchild.

Police have pursued a number of lines of inquiry in the years since her death, but no one has ever been charged.

Detectives maintain that the answer to Léa’s death lies in the local community, and ask that anyone with any information come forward.

Detective chief inspector Sue Jenkinson said: “I would appeal to anyone who has information to assist in this murder enquiry, as it is never too late to come forward.

“You would want the same if it was your mother or grandmother, as to not know why it happened or who did it is a very hard thing to live with.

“If you can help please come forward now.”

“Someone has got more information to give us than they have so far. It’s never too late to let us know what you know.

“Please come forward so that we can get justice for Léa.”