Bungled burglary may be behind student killing, say police

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Police investigating the murder of a fine art student who was found dead in a shared house said today they could not rule out he was the victim of a bungled burglary.



Officers were called to a house in the Hyde Park area of Leeds at about 2pm yesterday where they found the body of Joseph Mark Cook, 20, in a first floor bedroom. No-one else was in the house.



Mr Cook was studying fine art at Leeds Metropolitan University and was due to start his second year of studies.



He was originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.



Today, Detective Superintendent Bill Shackleton, who is leading the investigation, said he was keeping an open mind about what lay behind the death.



He did confirm burglary was one line of inquiry but the officer said he was not in a position to discuss what injuries Mr Cook suffered.



Mr Shackleton pleaded with anyone who was in the area of Ebberston Terrace or who knew Mr Cook to come forward.



He said: "The investigation is in its very early stages and there are obviously still a lot of questions that we need to find answers to.



"At the moment we are appealing for anyone who saw anyone coming or going from the property any time on Sunday or Monday to contact us urgently. We would urge anyone with any information to get in touch.



"We are particularly keen to hear from any friends or fellow students who knew Joseph well and can help us build up a picture of him."



The officers said the death was being treated as murder.



Mr Shackleton said officers found an open basement window at the property and although this had a grill across it he believed it would not "preclude a burglary".



He said Mr Cook was about to begin sharing the house with about four other students.



He said his team was currently trying to build up a picture of who was in the house, whether they had moved in and which items of property belonged to whom.



The detective said he could not come to any firm conclusions about what had happened in the house until officers had worked out details like whether items were already broken or whether rooms had been tidy before the incident.



Speaking at a press conference at a nearby police station, Mr Shackleton said: "We're still trying to establish when and by whom Joe was last seen.



"We think probably late afternoon on Sunday."



The detective said it was not yet clear why Mr Cook was in Leeds before the beginning of term but he said he did not believe he was at last weekend's Leeds Festival.