A “crime fighting” barrister has been accused of distributing an insensitive election leaflet in a bid to gain votes for an upcoming byelection.

Conservative Adrian Amer stood by his election leaflet about the murder of Margaret Sheehy, who was found dead in her flat in Springfield Road, Kingston, on June 12.

Mr Amer’s campaign manager said he was shocked at the reaction to the leaflet.

It said: “There has now been a murder in Grove ward. Crime fighting barrister Adrian Amer has called a public meeting to see what should be done.”

A resident in Springfield Road, who asked not to be named, said: “He is taking advantage of a murder in order to promote his own agenda.”

Henry Raynes, 16, also of Springfield Road, said: “I think it is awfully stupid using a murder to get votes.”

Ceris Raynes, who also lives in Springfield Road, said: “I think it is awful, terrible and disgusting.

“Has he informed the family and asked them if it is OK?

“I haven’t spoken to one person that thinks it is a good idea.”

Councillor Derek Osbourne, leader of Kingston Council, said: “To turn a murder into a byelection issue is odd when you don’t know anything about the background to the case.

“My view as a councillor has always been we should step back and let the police do their job in investigating a murder.

“I think it is an incredibly unacceptable political reaction to a tragic event.”

But Mr Amer (below), a prosecution and defence barrister, said the murder was at the apex of crime and antisocial behaviour in the ward.

He said: “There are more people talking to me about this particular issue and they have been very glad and grateful that I have raised it.

“More people have said to me that at least someone has the courage to raise it.

“It is all part of the crime and antisocial behaviour that seems to be on the increase.

“While I understand some people find it insensitive, there are more people very appreciative of the fact I have raised it.”

Ben Mallet, campaign manager for Mr Amer, said: “He genuinely wants to do something. Everybody else is able to talk about it.

“Why can’t he? He wants to listen to residents.”

Mr Mallet said they had already been planning to hold a meeting on crime and antisocial behaviour before Mrs Sheehy’s murder happened.

He said: “I know Adrian very well. You wouldn’t find a more sincere, good person.”

In a statement on the Grove Conservatives website posted the day after Mrs Sheehy’s body was found, the party said Mr Amer’s “thoughts and prayers” were with her family.