Burning body 'a bizarre suicide'

• Police reveal horrifying death

• Man set himself alight with petrol

• Corpse found wearing handcuffs

DETECTIVES investigating the death of a man whose charred body was found in a dense city woodland believe he took his own life in a bizarre suicide.

It is thought Daniel McMillan dug himself a shallow grave in the grounds of a derelict mansion.

Standing inside the hole, he is believed to have soaked himself in petrol and then handcuffed himself, according to police sources. He then lay down, pulled a metal lid over the grave, set fire to himself and burned to death in his self-made furnace.

The 37-year-old’s body was discovered ablaze in the ditch close to his home by police officers on a routine patrol on Marine Drive, in Granton, after they went to investigate what they suspected to be a forest fire in the grounds of Muirhouse Mansion. The corpse was so badly burned when it was found that it took forensics teams days to establish Mr McMillan’s identity.

But today, a Lothian and Borders Police source revealed the horrific details of how Mr McMillan chose to end his life.

It is understood he had been suffering from mental problems days before he committed the bizarre act.

"The man must have gone into the woods at night and dug his grave," the source said. "He doused himself in petrol, stepped into the grave and handcuffed himself. He then pulled a metal lid over the top of the grave and set fire to himself. It was a very bizarre sequence of events. I know the man was having a few mental problems before he did this - he was thinking all kinds of strange thoughts."

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman confirmed today that they were no longer looking for any suspects in connection with the Mr McMillan’s death and that a final report is being prepared to send to the procurator fiscal.

The spokesman said that although he couldn’t confirm the exact details of the man’s death, the indication was that he had committed suicide.

Mr McMillan, formerly of Granton Mains Avenue, was finally laid to rest yesterday at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh - nine days after his body was found.

A major inquiry was launched following the grim find and Mr McMillan’s death puzzled detectives for days.

They had been reluctant to remove the corpse from the scene in case they destroyed valuable evidence. However, a personal document of Mr McMillan’s found at the scene helped experts to identify the remains.

Mr McMillan, who was thought to have recently become engaged, was last week described as a "nice, friendly man".

Neighbours said they were deeply shocked by what had happened. One local, who did not wish to be named, said: "He was lovely. He had just got engaged to his girlfriend and they seemed really happy - they were a couple in love.

"It is such a shame for his family - they’ve had a lot of tragedy in their lives in the past already."

Another neighbour, Aileen Thomson, 72, said: "I was shocked when the police came round to my house - you just don’t expect this kind of thing to happen on your own doorstep."

The body, which was discovered sheltered by trees just yards from a seaside esplanade, had been burning for a number of hours. A two-square-mile section of woodland overlooking the Firth of Forth was cordoned off as forensic officers combed the area for clues and carried out tests on the remains.

Muirhouse Mansion was once the headquarters for Scottish Gas but has lain derelict and unoccupied for many years.

The area is popular with dog walkers and joggers.

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