Plea to gays in hunt for killer of Thai masseur

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London's gay community is being asked to help solve the murder of a Thai masseur who was strangled and stabbed at his home in Chelsea on Friday.

London's gay community is being asked to help solve the murder of a Thai masseur who was strangled and stabbed at his home in Chelsea on Friday.

Niphan Trikhana, known as Nikki, may have had high-profile or celebrity clients. The 32-year-old, who had lived in England since March, 2001, could have been offering sex along with traditional massage. Police have set up a confidential hotline for his clients, staffed by a gay officer.

Two weeks ago, the Bangkok-born masseur had rented a basement bedsit in the building. His fully clothed body was on the floor and police also discovered business cards advertising his massage services. There was no sign of a break-in and it is not thought he was sexually assaulted. Officers believe he probably knew his killer and had let him in, although they are keeping an open mind on the motive.

Mr Trikhana had moved from a basement flat in Notting Hill, where he also entertained clients, on 13 July. The last confirmed sighting of him was two days later, at the Lilian Bishop School of English in south-west London where he was a student. His body was found a week later. Detectives think he was killed between 15 and 20 July.

Detective Inspector Bill Jephson, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We are appealing for people to come forward to help us build up a picture of his lifestyle and circle of friends. This is a sensitive issue ... and we are working closely with the gay and lesbian community. People can speak to us in confidence at the incident room and if they feel more comfortable talking to a gay officer they can do so."

The force has changed the way gay crime is investigated. A police inquiry involving representatives of the gay community is re-examining investigations into six murders dating from 1990. It is intended to establish whether the cases were affected by anti-gay prejudice among officers and to learn lessons for police working with the homosexual community.

Anyone with information is asked to ring 0208 358 0200, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111