Couple stabbed to death in South Croydon home named

Thursday, October 01, 2009, 08:08

By Ian Austen, Anna Edwards, Cherry Wilson and Ross Lidbetter


The couple who were found stabbed to death in their South Croydon home yesterday (Wednesday) have been named as Barry and Elizabeth Dighton.

Mr Dighton was the former headteacher of Elmhurst School and Mrs Dighton was a former nursery teacher at the school.

Police sources have told the Advertiser their son Daniel, who had been a teaching assistant at the same school, is being questioned over their murder.

He remains in custody at a south London police station.

Police discovered the bodies after being called to a disturbance at a maisonette in Campden Road, at 12.20pm yesterday.

They found the couple, who had both suffered fatal stab wounds.

Although he retired as Elmhurst head in 2006 Mr Dighton remained heavily involved in local school activities through his work as vice chairman of Croydon Schools' Cricket Association.

He was also chairman of Croydon Schools' Table Tennis Association and had been instrumental in getting an under-11s table tennis league off the ground in the borough.

Mr Dighton was also a Crystal Palace season ticket holder and a passionate Kent cricket fan.

Croydon librarian Nick Bush has paid tribute to his former headteacher.

Mr Bush, who works at Croydon’s Central Library, said: "He was my English teacher, and he was such an inspiration.

"He was down to earth, firm but fair, and he and Elizabeth worked tirelessly for the pupils.

"He really encouraged me, so I am stunned and absolutely gutted this has happened."

Mr Bush had last seen Mr Dighton three weeks ago.

He said: "He would come into the library and we would catch up, he seemed very positive and was really enjoying his retirement.

"He was really happy, and talking about going to France (where the couple had a home) and playing cricket."

Mr Bush also knew the Dightons’ son Daniel from when he was a pupil at the school.

He said: "I remember him being quite quiet, he wouldn't say boo to a goose.

"He was clearly a cherished child, very loved. I know that he had started to get involved with teaching and his parents were very supportive of him."

Parents at Elmhurst School have expressed their shock.

Mum Dee Needs said: "I thought Mr Dighton was just marvellous.

"He knew every boy by name and was always making jokes to the boys as they came in, in the morning.

"The son seemed polite, and they were just a nice family."

Edward Handley, president and chairman of the Croydon Schools' Cricket Association, told how the couple spent a lot of time in France recently after buying a house there.

He said: "Its a dreadful shock. I just can’t believe it.

"Barry was very supportive of the boys at Elmhurst while he was there and was well respected by everyone.

"He was a very nice man and a good friend."

*For more tributes and more on the tragedy see tomorrow's (Friday's) Croydon Advertiser.

*Did you know the couple? If so leave a tribute by phoning the newsdesk on 020 8760 7601 or e-mailing newsdesk@essnmedia.co.uk

KILLED: Barry Dighton
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