DETECTIVES today began searching a river for a shotgun used in the alleged murder of businessman Guy Hedger.

Officers from Dorset Police’s marine section launched an inflatable craft into the River Stour in West Parley this morning. Divers based in Devon are expected to join the hunt for the weapon in the coming days.

Two officers scoured a section of the river underneath the New Road bridge as part of the initial search. They concentrated their efforts on a stretch downriver of the bridge.

The detectives used lines to anchor the small craft to the banks. A lens was then used to view the riverbed.

It is expected that one of the officers will also go into the water to test for depth and visibility before divers arrive.

As reported in the Daily Echo on Monday, a reward of up to £10,000 is being offered for information which leads investigators to the gun.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire, of the Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “We received intelligence to suggest that the weapon would be in this area and by searching the river we hope to recover it.”

Mr Hedger, 61, was shot in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, April 30 at his home in Castlewood, St Ives.

Intruders allegedly broke into the property shortly before the shooting.

Mr Hedger was later pronounced dead shortly after arriving at hospital.

Kevin Downton, 40 and from Winterborne Stickland near Blandford, and 41-year-old Jason Baccus and 44-year-old Scott Keeping, both of Verney Close in Bournemouth, are all charged with murder.

The men will next appear before a judge at Winchester Crown Court on Friday, September 8.

Helen Cooper, who is also known as Helen Keeping, was this week charged with assisting an offender. She is due to appear at Winchester Crown Court next Wednesday, August 2.

A 39-year-old Bournemouth man and 45-year-old Poole man previously arrested in relation to the incident were released under investigation.

DCI Derbyshire said: “There has been a positive response to the Crimestoppers appeal earlier this week.

“However, we would still ask anyone with information that can assist our investigation to come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55170062746.

Those who wish to speak anonymously can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit