Brother's plea to catch 'homophobic' killers

The brother of a man who police believe may have been killed in a homophobic attack today made an emotional appeal for information to help catch those responsible.

Nigel Price was found collapsed and partially-clothed with serious head injuries on Southampton Common on the morning of Saturday, November 14, 2009.

The attack left the 58-year-old in a critical condition and in a semi-comatose state and he died on March 23 this year at Southampton General Hospital after his condition deteriorated.

A post mortem confirmed he died of the delayed effects of the head injuries he received when he was attacked and a murder inquiry was launched.

Now, a year after the attack, Hampshire police and Crimestoppers are offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who attacked Mr Price.

His brother, Tony Price called on witnesses or anyone who knew the culprits to come forward to put his "family's minds at rest".

He said: "He was basically a kind-hearted man who would do anything for you.

"It was a terrible shock and we were all very upset to think something like this could happen to him.

"We now just want to know what happened and help bring those who did this to justice.

"Someone must know something and I would urge anyone who does to come forward and contact the police and help put our family's minds at rest."

He added that he hoped the reward would act as an incentive to encourage a witness to contact police.

He said: "It's a nice amount of cash and hopefully it might just be the thing to make someone who knows something to come forward and give police the vital bit of information they need to help solve this crime."

Detectives are investigating the possibility that Mr Price, who was openly gay, was assaulted in a homophobic attack.

Despite following up dozens of leads and making appeals for various people seen on the common at the time to come forward, officers have so far been unable to solve the case.

Detective Chief Inspector Ben Snuggs, who is leading the investigation, said: "This weekend we will have additional police officers in place on the common, including specially-trained lesbian and gay liaison staff, helping us to identify witnesses who were either in the area at the same time last year or have since heard from others about what happened to Nigel.

"Any information you provide will be treated sensitively regardless of the reason for your visit to the Common."

Police know he was at the nearby Cowherds Pub until about 8.20pm on Friday, November 13, but need to know what happened to him between then and when he was found around 7.30am the next morning.

It is thought he may also have been involved in an altercation with someone at about 8.45pm and then seen by a couple who saw an injured man in the park about 9.30pm.

He added that police were keen to trace two men who were seen on the common at 7am on November 14, 2009.

Both men had white skin, one was in his early 30s, 6ft tall with a slight build but muscular. He had short, light coloured hair and wore a lightweight, dark coloured anorak over dark jeans.

The shorter man was also in his early 30s, about 5ft 8ins tall, darker hair wearing a lightweight dark coloured anorak over dark jeans.

Anyone with information are asked to contact the Operation Levy Team at the major crime department at Hulse Road police station on 101, through Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the Gay Community Health Service on 023 80 515238.