Murder investigation launched after body found in stream

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A murder investigation was launched today after the body of a man was found in a woodland stream more than two weeks after he died.

The body of Shawn Williams, also known as Simon, was found on the evening of July 20 in a wooded area off Springford Road, Coxford, Southampton, Hampshire.

His body was badly decomposed, causing police difficulties in identifying him.

Police believe Mr Williams, of Victoria Road, Woolston, Southampton, had been assaulted and suffered head injuries on July 3.

At 8.52am that day, police were notified by South Central Ambulance Service that they had treated a man with serious head injuries in Northam Road.

The 42-year-old is understood to have discharged himself from Southampton General Hospital later that day and police believe he may have died a short while later.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said that when officers contacted Mr Williams following the assault he did not want to make a formal complaint or speak to police.

The force has referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as a matter of routine because of their involvement with the victim prior to his death.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Powell, leading the investigation, said: "We are treating the death of Shawn Williams as murder and we believe that the serious head injuries he received from this assault led to his death.

"We know Mr Williams discharged himself from hospital a few hours after he was admitted and he is seen on CCTV walking out of the hospital, not far from where his body was eventually found, in woodland off Springford Road."

His parents, who do not want to be named, said in a statement: "Our son Simon was a quiet, gentle man, with an easy-going, friendly temperament.

"He did not drink, smoke or take drugs, and was so keen to keep healthy and became a vegetarian.

"He enjoyed tennis, cycling, keeping fit, but most of all he enjoyed music and playing one of his several guitars.

""He was as much a friend as a son and will be sadly missed by us, his mother and dad."

Police said Mr Williams was a "very distinctive man" at 6ft 5in tall.

He had ginger hair, weighed approximately 17 to 18 stone, had size 11 to 12 feet and was of athletic build.