Police win confidence of gays in hunt for murderer

DETECTIVES hunting the killer of a homosexual man in Suffolk are visiting gay 'pick-up' areas in an attempt to contact potential witnesses.

The half-naked body of Mark Kelsey, 47, a pet shop owner from Lakenheath, was found dumped in a Mildenhall wood earlier this year. His skull had been fractured in what police described as a frenzied attack. Mr Kelsey's car was abandoned near Barton Mills picnic area, a regular meeting place for gay men.

The manner of the investigation was welcomed yesterday by sections of the gay community as a good example of how such inquiries should be conducted. Police have been liaising closely with members of the gay press, using a special phoneline to take calls from people afraid to contact them directly.

They have taken 350 statements and had 200 messages, many from gay men who were at the picnic area when Mr Kelsey last visited.

Detective Inspector John Barnett, leading the investigation, said Suffolk detectives had been helped by the Metropolitan police and, in particular, Detective Superintendent Albert Patrick who played a key role in the inquiry that led to the conviction last December of the gay serial killer Colin Ireland. Yesterday, Det Supt Patrick issued a further appeal for help in tracking the killer of Barry Stubbings, a City stockbroker who was murdered at his home in Spitalfields in March.

Det Supt Patrick is liaising with London's gay community, as are officers investigating the murders of two other gay men, Basil Wicomb and Larry Burt. Mr Wicomb, 49, was found in a flat in Fulham in January. He had been asphyxiated. Mr Burt was found strangled in February near Tower Bridge.

A spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Police Association said yesterday: 'The Suffolk case, particularly, is a textbook example of how an investigation can be done. Suffolk officers have been here to speak to us because they didn't have anybody 'out' enough to do it. We've got everything ready and waiting, all the names and contacts, for anyone who comes to us.'