Suspicious death rocks upmarket Merchiston

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A TEAM of forensics experts were last night investigating the suspicious death of a man found in his home in one of the most affluent areas of Edinburgh.

The man, believed to be in his 60s, was discovered lying dead in his flat in Merchiston, following reports of a gas leak in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police say the man, who worked as an actuary in an Edinburgh firm, had "signs of injury".

His home, part of a substantial Victorian villa that had been converted into flats, was cordoned off and a team of forensic scientists removed bags from the property.

The street is in the EH10 postcode area, which has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires per head of any place in Scotland, with writers JK Rowling and Ian Rankin living in the area.

Residents in the upmarket street, where former foreign secretary Robin Cook once lived, expressed their shock at the news.

Graeme Hutton, who lives nearby, often saw the man walking to work. "He was a youngish, fit-looking man who headed off to work every day," he said. "He was always very friendly and would stop to pass the time of day. It is very sad news."

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said he saw him leaving his house at 8:30am every weekday and returning at 5pm.

He added: "When we had all that bad snow, he helped dig my car out and I helped dig his car, a Peugeot, out.

"He was a thoroughly pleasant man, very polite and quiet, and well turned out."

Another neighbour said: "The police have been knocking on doors, asking where people were on Friday night.

"They have also been telling us that there was nothing to worry about, but there was a number to call if any of us needed reassurance.

"It is all very strange, as you just don't get things like this happening in this area. It is very rare to see a single police car here, let alone several as well as a forensic unit."

The massive police operation was launched on Saturday morning, after gas workers who had been called to the property to investigate reports of a leak broke in and discovered the man lying dead on the floor of his hallway.George Anderson, who lives in one of the five flats in the building, said the first he knew of his neighbour's death was the smell of gas early on Saturday morning.

He said: "They were getting worrying readings about the amount of gas coming out and the workmen were allowed to break in."

Mr Anderson said he was now "living inside a crime scene" and had to get permission to go in and out of his flat.

Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Blair said: "A post-mortem will have to take place before cause of death is established.However, the man's body did show signs of injury.

"In the meantime, we are appealing to anyone who was in the area of Merchiston Crescent overnight from Friday night into Saturday morning, who saw or heard anything suspicious, to contact police immediately.

"At the moment, a cordon is in place around the property, and forensic examinations are taking place at the scene.

"Extra uniformed patrols are under way in the area in order to provide reassurance to local residents, and officers are on hand to speak to anyone who has concerns about the ongoing police activity."

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