By Tania Jacquier
A NIGHT-TIME OPERATION to find witnesses to a murder in Huddersfield town centre was held this weekend.
About 14 officers with police dogs were on patrol in the area around McDonald’s on Kirkgate appealing for information about the violent attack which led to the death of 37-year-old Graham Bell on October 1.
Mr Bell, who lived in the town, suffered serious head injuries in the assault at around 12.40am and died three days later in Leeds General Infirmary.
Two boys, aged 15 and 16, were arrested on suspicion of assault, and have since been bailed.
Kirklees District Commander Chief Superintendent Steve Cotter, said: “I would like to pass on my sincerest condolences to Mr Bell’s family.
“There have been a number of incidents in Huddersfield town centre which have understandably caused real concern amongst our communities.
“I would like to reassure residents that we are maintaining an overt policing presence in Kirklees.”
The murder comes just days after student Troy Augustine, 19, was convicted of stamping five times on a man lying on the ground in May this year, which also happened outside McDonald’s.
District Judge Michael Fanning referred to the continuing problems with violence in the town centre during the sentencing, saying that locals are fed up with how commonplace fights in the area are becoming.
There were two more mass brawls outside the restaurant, each involving more than 20 people, on July 1 and 2 this year.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s declined to comment, saying only: “We are co-operating fully with the police in their investigations, and as such cannot comment further.”
They did confirm that they have had security personnel on their payroll for 10 years in Huddersfield, and have recently hired more.
West Yorkshire Police said the appeal this weekend was combined with a ‘proactive policing operation’, which has been planned for some time.
It aimed to provide high visibility policing patrols, and to tackle drugs offences, possession of illegal weapons, and anti-social and alcohol-related disorder, as well as carrying out licensing visits to bars and clubs.
Inspector James Kitchen, from the Huddersfield Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We hope that our communities will be encouraged that we are taking proactive steps to remove criminality from the streets of Huddersfield.”