Unsolved Murders: Garage owner shot dead – police draw a blank

PC Tony Ball with a revolver believed to be similar to the one used to kill Alan Rosser.
PC Tony Ball with a revolver believed to be similar to the one used to kill Alan Rosser.
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SHOT at close range by a single bullet – Alan Rosser’s cold-blooded murder was one which sent shockwaves through the community.

Even the police at the time admitted this type of gangland-style slaying was virtually unknown in Lancashire.

Murder victim Alan Rosser

Murder victim Alan Rosser

Mr Rosser, 34, was outside his Imperial Engineering car repair workshop on Back Eaves Street, North Shore, when he was shot in the head at close range by a single bullet from a .45 revolver on November 12, 1999.

He had been abducted, beaten with an iron bar, bundled into a van and robbed earlier the same year – prompting murder squad detectives to investigate the possibility he had become involved in a gangland feud.

Graham Gooch, who was the detective superintendent leading the investigation at the time, said: “We know Mr Rosser had a lot of convictions for motoring offences and one for possession of drugs so there is a possibility of a drugs-related motive. He may have been involved in drug dealing but at a low level.

“This is the great danger once drugs come into it because gunmen inevitably follow.”

Unsolved Murders - A Gazette Special Report

Unsolved Murders - A Gazette Special Report

Mr Rosser, of Lindsay Avenue, was a keen club goer, described by his family as “a decent bloke with a lot of friends”.

His body was found near his workshop door by a worker from nearby premises who heard people arguing and then a shot.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and later transferred to a neurological ward at the Royal Preston Hospital but died in the early hours the following morning.

At the height of the investigation, more than 75 officers were investigating Mr Rosser’s death.

Murder squad detectives interviewed more than 100 people while carrying out inquiries within the first week.

A week later scores of officers took to the streets to hand out leaflets featuring a picture of Mr Rosser and questioned more than 1,000 people.

An artist’s impression was released of a man seen at about the time of the murder running from Egerton Road, into Carshalton Road towards Sherbourne Road.

Witnesses said the man looked frightened and appeared to be carrying or holding something with his right arm beneath his jacket as he ran.

Police at the time believed someone in the drug underworld held the key to unlock the inquiry and extended their investigation to Wolverhampton, Manchester and Sheffield.

It seemed detectives were close to cracking the case when two men, from Manchester, were charged with the businessman’s murder. But the charges against them were dismissed in 2001 when the judge agreed with defence claims the case should be discharged.

Police today said they are still focused on bringing Mr Rosser’s murderer to justice.

Det Insp Brian King, of the force major investigation team, said: “No job is left – that’s the bottom line. What we don’t do is say a case is undetected and then leave it. We constantly go back to look for new lines of inquiry.”

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