Friends fear 'gentle John' killed in gay attack

FRIENDS of a man who died after being found unconscious in a lift at a block of flats said he had left a Leith pub with two men just hours before he was found dead.

John Carter was discovered in a lift in Salamander Court at around 3.30am on Sunday, and died at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary a short time later.

A friend told the Evening News that the 44-year-old had spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the Port O'Leith in Constitution Street before leaving with two men at 11.30pm.

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Meanwhile, a 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with the murder of Alan Ross, 45, at his home address in Pilton Drive North on Sunday. He was set to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.

Mr Ross is understood to have suffered stab wounds. His body was discovered by firefighters after they were called to a blaze at his home.

One of the two men at the Port O'Leith was described as having a flame tattoo on his neck while the other had a Geordie accent.

They had been drinking with Mr Carter - who is understood to have been gay - before they departed.

Friends of Mr Carter, who lived in Cables Wynd House in Leith, have been left "devastated" and are worried he may have been attacked because of his sexuality.

A friend, who asked not to be named, said: "John had been drinking all day on the Saturday. He had no money left but friends bought him drinks.

"John had been talking to these two guys and they left together at 11.30pm.

"We don't know if he was maybe going to a party. John was gay so we don't know if he might have expected something else to happen.

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"That's left us thinking it may have been a homophobic attack.

"John was a gentle giant with no interest in fighting. He was a lovely guy who was very cultured. He loved reading, playing backgammon, going to museums and libraries."

Mr Carter, who was unemployed, lived in Edinburgh for around ten years after being brought up in Wick, where his family still lives.

Detectives said the incident is not currently being treated as a homophobic attack, adding that a postmortem had been "inconclusive" and work was continuing to establish a cause of death.

Early reports suggested he may have been beaten. No arrests have been made.

Forensic teams were still carrying out examinations on the sixth floor of Salamander Court yesterday afternoon.

One resident said: "I got home at around 5.30am on Sunday after a night shift and the building was cordoned off. The lift was being kept open on the ground floor with a cone and there was a lot of blood."

Detective Inspector Sara Buchanan, who is leading the investigation, said: "We are continuing to appeal for witnesses who were in the area in the early hours of Sunday morning."Similarly, anyone with any other information should also get in touch."

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Tributes to Mr Carter have been left on the Port O'Leith's Facebook page. Sister Mel sent a message via a friend saying she would like to meet his friends, adding: "I want to make sure I do things the way he would have wanted . . . I'm grateful to all of you."

A barmaid at the Port O'Leith said: "He was a really nice guy. I'd know him for seven or eight years. He was a regular in here.

"I wasn't working on Saturday but he would've been in a good mood because I never saw him any other way."