Two men questioned on Asian's murder

Businessman is beaten to death after being set on in street as Lawrence parents attend memorial for their son
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Detectives in South Wales were questioning two men last night over the death of an Asian businessman who was killed in what police are treating as a racially motivated attack.

Peter Singh, 42, who was married with three children, was apparently set upon as he walked through Port Talbot, West Glamorgan, during a Saturday night out with a group of friends.

It is believed that Mr Singh and a friend had fallen behind the others when they were attacked at about 9pm.

The cause of Mr Singh's death remained unclear last night. Police would only say they believed he died as a result of "a physical assault". His friend was knocked unconscious.

Paramedics were called to the scene but he died on the pavement opposite the town's police station. He was less than 200 yards from his home and 100 yards from the women's fashion shop he owned.

Yesterday, friends of Mr Singh, who changed his name from Santokh to Peter 20 years ago, said he had lived in Port Talbot for 30 years and had never encountered serious racial problems in the town.

Terry Coughlan, the landlord of the Red Lion pub, towards which Mr Singh and his friends were walking, said: "He was a lovely guy and had been in the town for so long that no one thought of him as being anything than a local.

"He was just Peter to everyone - a family man with a lovely wife and three children. As far as I was aware no one had any reason to dislike him. He was just a nice chap."

Richard Davies, a barman who was working in the Grand Hotel next to the police station when the attack happened, said: "It was dreadful. The paramedics were trying to revive him but it was no good.

"No one could believe what was happening. This is a quiet town and there are no real racial problems."

Yesterday Mr Singh's wife - who changed her name to Julie some years ago -- and their children were being comforted by members of the town's Asian community. Police trained in dealing with racial crime were also with the family.

A spokesman for the town's Asian community said: "If this is a racially motivated murder then I think it is very, very sad. Ninety-nine per cent of people in this town just want to live in peace and we do not want to have problems of this kind.

"It is tragic to think that someone may have lost his life because he comes from a different culture. I am sure that this has shocked everyone in Port Talbot, not just the Asian community."

Port Talbot's mayor, Peter Harris, said he was not aware of any racial problems in the town. Mr Harris said: "I am very, very surprised and upset to hear what has taken place in our town and my sympathies go out to all the relatives of this young man."

South Wales Police said yesterday that they were treating the death as racially motivated but declined to say what evidence they had to support this view, other than that Mr Singh was of Asian background.

A spokeswoman said a man aged 57 was being questioned at a police station in Neath and a 48-year-old man was being questioned in Bridgend. She confirmed that the incident was being treated as murder.