Operation School - the inquiry into Jean Barnes' murder - cost more than £600,000 and lasted more than five months.

Yesterday police officers were celebrating a job well done as David Munley started his life sentence.

When they discovered Miss Barnes' body, officers swung into operation.

Her house was so big and cluttered it took scenes of crimes officers nine weeks to examine the property.

More than 200 police employees were involved in collecting the evidence which would eventually link Munley to the murder.

More than 900 statements were taken and 80 witnesses were called to give evidence at Lewes Crown Court.

Officers seized and recovered more than 3,600 exhibits and had to trace antiques which had been sold throughout Europe.

It was another first for Sussex Police when they brought in a liaison officer to help support the family of the suspect - an officer was on hand for Munley's ex-wife Judith.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Scott led the investigation. He said: "Miss Barnes had lived a wonderful life and nobody had the right to take that life away from her.

"It was necessary for us to go through everything and because Miss Barnes was elderly and a hoarder it was a long process.

"We wanted to make sure we looked through every piece of information in the house and we did."