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Corpse discovery treated as suspicious

PUBLISHED: 07:41 04 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:34 03 March 2010

DETECTIVES will resume their investigations today after the bruised body of a man was found laying behind a gravestone in an Ipswich churchyard.

Police were called to St Peter's Church in Star Lane at around 7.15pm yesterday and cordoned off the area around the medieval dockside church.

DETECTIVES will resume their investigations today after the bruised body of a man was found laying behind a gravestone in an Ipswich churchyard.

Police were called to St Peter's Church in Star Lane at around 7.15pm yesterday and cordoned off the area around the medieval dockside church.

Inspector Andrew Solomon of Suffolk Constabulary said police were treating the death as suspicious but could not speculate on how the man died.

He added: "I can confirm there are bruises on the body which is why we are going ahead so carefully." He would not say whether the bruising was extensive, adding that scenes of crime officers were investigating. The body was not expected to be moved until this morning.

A local history group made the grim discovery on a tour of St Peter's, which overlooks a busy roundabout near Cardinal Park and alerted the emergency services.

St Peter's was the first stop for the Ipswich Archaeological Trust which was due to visit three waterside churches in the town, guided by Dr John Blatchly, chairman of Ipswich Historic Churches Trust.

The group first thought the man, who is believed to be around 35, was sleeping and only raised the alarm once they had finished their tour.

Dr Blatchly, a former headmaster of Ipswich School, said: "I wanted to take them to the far end of the churchyard to look at the truncated chancel. We walked right past the unfortunate fellow. It was a little bit of a showstopper.

"Some of the party who had mobile phones contacted the emergency services. We thought he was asleep at first."

Margaret Hancock, a member of the party, added: "We were looking at the outside of the building when someone noticed a young chap laying down behind one of the gravestones. I don't think he had a coat on – I saw a bare arm and what looked like very cold flesh. We drew it to the attention of the organisers and thought the best thing would be to carry on. It was a bit of a shock."

Inspector Andrew Solomon added that the church would remain cordoned off until medical experts and detective officers had been able to establish how the man died.

He added: "In these cases there are certain procedures we have to carry out. Until at least preliminary inquiry work has been done I will not be able to comment on how this man died."

A local businessman, who would not be named, said he had definitely seen a group of youngsters in the churchyard the previous day.

A fellow businessman, who also preferred to remain anonymous, said: "This is usually a very quiet, sleepy spot but has recently got a lot busier now that the skate park has been built."

St Peter's was declared redundant in the early 1970s and fell into a terrible state of repair. The church, which has the finest black Tournai marble font in England, was used as a model railway club for nearly 20 years. St Peter's was originally intended to adjoin a feeder school to Cardinal Wolsey's Oxford college, but the school was never built. Only Wolsey's gateway remains. Plans to convert St Peter into offices fell through last year. In April this year, volunteers began a scheme to open to church to the public on Thursday afternoons.

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