Pensioner murdered during break-in

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The Independent Online

A frail elderly man has been murdered in a break-in at his home at a centre made famous by the late John Profumo, police said yesterday.

Ferozur Rahman, 83, was found bleeding and unconscious by his 17-year-old grandson at his flat attached to Toynbee Hall in the Brick Lane area of London's East End on Friday.

Widower Mr Rahman, who had seven children and several grandchildren, was taken to the Royal London Hospital with head injuries but never regained consciousness and died last night, Scotland Yard said.

Today his ground floor housing association flat in the Toynbee Hall complex was sealed off as police searched for evidence.

Detectives said there had been signs of forced entry at the flat, although it is unclear whether anything was taken and police are keeping an open mind over the motive.

Detective Inspector Larry Smith, leading the murder hunt, said: "Mr Rahman was last seen at his home address at 9.30pm on Thursday and was found unconscious the next day, at 2.30pm.

"We are appealing for anyone who witnessed people acting suspiciously on the estate, or anyone who witnessed someone, or more than one person, force entry into Mr Rahman's home or leave his home between these times."

Toynbee Hall, which dates back to 1884, running projects for the poor and deprived of the East End, had links with Clement Attlee and William Beveridge but is best known for its connection to Mr Profumo.

The ex-war minister, who quit Harold Macmillan's government in 1963 over his affair with a showgirl who also had links with a Russian spy, worked tirelessly there as a volunteer until his death at the age of 91 in March.

It is thought likely that Profumo may have known Mr Rahman, who was a long-term resident.

Dr Cynthia White, a trustee of Toynbee Hall, said: "Jack (as Mr Profumo was known) was friends with all of the older people here, they loved him, they absolutely adored him and called him a hero."

Mr Rahman's son-in-law Abjal Hussain, 43, said that the family were devastated by the killing.

Describing his father-in-law, originally from the Sylhet area of Bangladesh, he said: "He was a good man who was likely to help everyone, he was like a community worker - everybody goes to him for any type of help.

"When I think about what happened I am very shocked, we are not really taking it in."

Abul Azad, a project worker at the Surma Bangladeshi Pensioners' club where Mr Rahman was a regular, said: "He was a very good man."

Marina Starceva, 47, a restaurant worker from Russia, lives directly above Mr Rahman's flat.

She said that the area directly outside the flat had been plagued by yobs smoking drugs until recently.

"If you knew how many times they threatened to kill me and hit me - but nobody touched me," she said.

Nevertheless she insisted that that she did not believe that Mr Rahman had personally had problems with the youths.

"I think he had problems with hearing," she said, "Those guys didn't disturb him, they were very noisy and not polite, but I think this is something different."

Describing Mr Rahman as a popular man who always had lots of visitors she said: "He was a normal person, Why kill him? I don't understand it."

Mr Hussain said that he was not aware of any problems with gangs of youths recently.

"There was a problem in the area but not with him particularly, apart from that I don't know," he said.

Asked whether the area had a particular problem with gangs, Detective Inspector Larry Smith of Scotland Yard said: "I don't think the area is too dissimilar to other areas of inner London."

Any witnesses or anyone with information is urged to call the incident room on 020 8345 1585 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.