Post mortem to help solve body puzzle

DETECTIVES were today trying to determine if a man whose bruised body was found by a grave in an Ipswich churchyard was murdered or died of natural causes.

By Georgina James

DETECTIVES were today trying to unravel the mystery of a man's death in a graveyard.

The grim discovery was made in St Peter's churchyard between Star Lane and College Street just before 7.20pm yesterday by a local history group.

Police said initially they were they were treating the death as suspicious but today ruled out foul play.

A post mortem examination revealed that death was due to natural causes.

The medieval dockside church remained cordoned off by police tape today and two officers guarded the scene.

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One officer stood at the entrance to the 14th century church while another stood underneath an apple tree close to where the body was found.

The church attracted a lot of attention from people walking to work and passing motorists, many of whom were unaware of the mysterious discovery.

A police spokeswoman today said: "We have not been able to formally identified the man and we are currently trying to do this.

"We believe the man to be in his early 40s."

Police were not able to say how long the body could may have been in the graveyard and said they would know more following the post mortem examination which was conducted by Home Office pathologist Michael Heath at Ipswich Hospital.

The investigation is being led by Detective Inspector Alan Caton.

Last night scenes of crime officers carried out a fingertip search of the area to try to find any clues to how the man died. It is believed the body was moved early today.

A local history group made the 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 was sleeping and only raised the alarm once they had finished their tour.

A spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Service said: "We received an emergency call to St Peter's Church just before 7.20pm yesterday, to reports of a male who was unconscious in the churchyard.

"The caller, who was using a mobile phone, believed the man may have been deceased. An ambulance arrived four minutes after the call was made, but paramedics quickly established that the patient was deceased. They remained on scene with the police until 8.40pm."

Police are appealing for anybody who has any information relating to this incident to contact Ipswich CID via the central switchboard on 01473 613500.