Assault charge man found dead days after court date

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DETECTIVES are investigating the suspicious death of a man who was found dead just ten days after he appeared in court on charges of attacking his girlfriend.

&#149 The flat in Lauriston Place has been cordoned off while forensic police gather evidence.

Lee Duncan, 31, was found dead in his flat in Lauriston Place by officers at around 10.45am yesterday after a neighbour called police.

Detectives said the death was being treated as "suspicious" and they planned to investigate whether it was linked with Mr Duncan's court case last week.

Mr Duncan's step-father, James, said that his family had been left "devastated" upon being told the news.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the inquiry, said they had reports of Mr Duncan being seen alive at around 9pm on Thursday. He added that Mr Duncan had suffered "injuries", but said that forensic work was needed before the cause of death could be confirmed.

Mr Duncan appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court from custody last Tuesday following an incident at his flat when his girlfriend was allegedly assaulted. He pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and a breach of the peace, and was released on bail with a trial set for June 28.

His friend, John Farquhar, said yesterday that the couple had not broken up following the incident.

Mr Farquhar, 45, who lives in a hostel on Bruntsfield Place, said he and Mr Duncan had known each other for the past 18 months and had become "the best of friends".

He said: "I went round to visit him in the morning and saw all the police. I shouted up to the window but the police told me he wouldn't respond. I asked why and they said they couldn't tell me. Like me, he was on methadone, but he didn't do any other drugs. I don't know of anyone who had a grudge against him and he wasn't dealing drugs.

"Lee was someone who would walk away from bother."

It is understood Mr Duncan, who is said to have been with his girlfriend for about five months, was living on income support and had no children.

The flat, which Mr Duncan rented for the past six years, was cordoned off yesterday while teams of forensic officers carried out an examination.

DCI Hardie said: "At the moment, we have nothing to suggest that there was any form of disturbance in the flat or that property is missing from the flat, but we're still working to establish if that is the case."

Asked whether officers would probe potential links to Mr Duncan's court appearance last week, DCI Hardie said: "It would be standard practice to look at the background of the deceased person to determine what may be significant.

"We are speaking to a number of significant witnesses but no one has been interviewed as a suspect."

Extra patrols were set to be mounted in the area while police appealed to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious around Lauriston Place to come forward.