Double murder linked to woman's mystery death

The partner of one of two men found dead in a flat yesterday died last month in mysterious circumstances.

The bodies of the middle-aged victims - understood to be friends James Atkinson and Neil Gilmore - were discovered when police were called to the address in Burnley, Lancashire, yesterday afternoon.

Mr Gilmore, known as "Gilly", lived at the flat in Waddington Avenue and was said by neighbours to have had problems with alcohol, while Mr Atkinson lived a few blocks away in Brunshaw Avenue.

A separate investigation is under way into the death of Mr Atkinson's partner, Pamela Brown, 43, who died on September 7.

It is thought that police were looking at links between her case and the double murder.

An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned last month as histology and toxicology tests were ordered.

The mother of three died in Blackburn Royal Hospital just three days after the death of her father, Trevor Brown, 68, a lecturer at Burnley College, who had been ill for some time.

Neighbours gathered in the street on the sprawling council estate last night as white-suited forensics officers scoured the property for evidence and studied the flat's entrance.

Nursery nurse Debbie Chadburn, who lives opposite Mr Gilmore's flat, said he lived there "for a good few years".

"He was the kind of guy who kept himself to himself but was very loud when he had taken a drink, which he did often, every day.

"He was in his 50s and disabled, walking with a stick and he had no use in his left side.

"He had lots of visitors at the flat.

"He had friends who came around and looked after him when he was in no fit state to look after himself.

"Some young girls would go round as well - I'm not sure if they were friends of his helpers."

Mr Gilmore's next-door neighbour, landscaping student Martin Meeks, 21, said: "I was out at college this afternoon when the bodies were found.

"I really don't know much about him but I never heard any rows or anything in the past."

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: "The deaths are being treated as suspicious and an investigation is now under way.

"It is a double murder investigation. No arrests have been made."

Mr Atkinson had moved into the ground-floor flat in Waddington Avenue following an arson attack at his home in Brunshaw Avenue last month - less than a fortnight after the death of his partner.

Pam Brown had three children - Kenny, Krystal and Lee - from a previous marriage.