DETECTIVES have reopened the investigation into one of the most brutal unsolved murders in the district.

Joe Shipton, 61, was beaten to death in his home, in Plashets, Sheering, on Friday, March 24, 2006.

A large police investigation which took place at the time included interviews with every household in the village and a nationwide TV appeal on Crimewatch.

Four years on, officers are certain someone in the village knows who killed Mr Shipton and they hope with the passage of time they will now come forward.

Detective Sergeant Ed Mayo said: “Someone knows who is responsible and I believe that their conscience may be troubling them and so now is the time to contact police or give information anonymously via Crimestoppers.

“It was always thought from the initial investigation that it was a local murder and it would be solved locally. Someone must know something in that community which is quite close-knit. Someone in that village community definitely knows who killed him.

“If someone is scared or nervous they can contact me in the strictest confidence.”

Mr Shipton's sister Betty Taylor said: “Joe is dearly missed by the family and we hope with the passage of time anyone with any information surrounding Joe’s murder can now come forward and help the police.”

Michael “Joe” Shipton was well known in the area, which he travelled around by bicycle. He had lived at his home for many years and would go drinking in the local pub. He had been made redundant from his job in the 1970s and did gardening and other odd-jobs for cash.

He died at his home after suffering head injuries from being repeatedly struck with a blunt instrument around the size of a baseball bat. There were no signs of forced entry to his house.

Mystery surrounded the reasons for Mr Shipton's murder. He was a private man and would sometimes disappear from the village for long periods of time.

Detectives suggested at the time of his death that he might have led a “hidden life” away from Sheering.

Mr Mayo said: “Someone knows who killed Joe and now is the time for Joe’s family to get some answers and see justice done. Anyone with any information can call me, in confidence at Brentwood Major Investigation Team on 0300 333 4444.”