Sunningdale 'murder' victim named

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The Independent Online

The man found dying in the back of a van was named by police today as father-of-three Shaleem Amar.

Mr Amar, 40, of Hancocks Mount, Sunningdale, was married and had an eight-year-old son, and two daughters aged seven and three.

The family had moved to the area just two months ago.

Thames Valley Police said a post-mortem examination yesterday showed Mr Amar had died of head injuries.

Meanwhile detectives are searching a multi-million pound mansion in connection with the murder inquiry.

Mr Amar was found inside the van by officers when they pulled over the vehicle on Wednesday.

Police are focusing the murder inquiry on an unoccupied six-bedroom mansion nearby.

The sprawling, modern property is reportedly worth more than £3 million.

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: "We conducted a forensic examination of the house in connection with the murder inquiry.

"Officers were searching the property from 3pm yesterday and are still in place today."

Police are reportedly investigating whether Mr Amar was held at the empty house before his death.

Four men tried to escape from the van after it was pulled over by police.

Three were quickly arrested but officers had to use a helicopter to find and capture the fourth man.

Following the arrests officers searched the white Mercedes Sprinter and discovered a critically injured Mr Amar, who was "breathing shallowly".

Paramedics tried to revive him but he was pronounced dead at the scene at around 2pm.

Witnesses said Mr Amar was wrapped in bags and one officer at the scene remarked that he appeared to have been tortured.

Bystanders also said a sledgehammer, which may have been used to attack the victim, was recovered from the van by investigators.

The four men, all arrested on suspicion of murder, are aged 24, 26, 54 and 56.

They remain in police custody.

The actions of the officers who took 37 minutes to find Mr Amar in the back of the van were "reasonable in the circumstances", the police watchdog said today.

Firearms officers from Thames Valley Police pulled the white Mercedes Sprinter van over on the A30 in Sunningdale at 1pm on Wednesday.

Four men were arrested before the van was searched and Mr Amar was eventually discovered.

The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and a senior investigator finished his assessment today.

Mike Franklin, IPCC commissioner for the south east, said: "It took 37 minutes from the point that the van was stopped, until officers discovered the injured man.

"At first glance, this seems like a long time. However, based on what was known to police at that time, I am satisfied that there was no reason why officers should have suspected anybody was injured in the back of the van.

"I therefore believe it was reasonable for the officers to prioritise arresting and dealing with the four men, including two that were trying to abscond, before they started the search."

Neighbours said Mr Amar, who lived in a sprawling mansion at the end of Hancocks Mount, had a "flash" and "desirable" lifestyle.

He drove at least three different new Mercedes estate cars and dressed in "expensive-looking" suits, they said.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "I used to see him drive by either very early in the morning or late at night, sometimes 12 or one.

"Sometimes I saw him outside the Martin's shop near the station waiting for it to open.

"He would smoke those little cigars but would usually throw it away before finishing it."

Another neighbour said: "I would see people coming and going at all hours from his house.

"They were all men, some Middle Eastern and some European-looking.

"They would show up in nice cars and only stay for 10 minutes or so."

Neighbours said they first saw Mr Amar in September but nobody recalled seeing his wife or three children.

One said: "We never thought anything of him, we just thought he was some rich guy who lived near here."