New Town death: Police continue probe

Police investigating the death on Cumberland Street. Picture: Esme Allen
Police investigating the death on Cumberland Street. Picture: Esme Allen
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DETECTIVES are continuing to probe the mystery death of a man found unconscious in the heart of the New Town.

The dead man, believed to be in his 30s, was found in a lane off Cumberland Street at around 5am yesterday.

He was unconscious and died in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary despite showing no sign of physical injury.

Police have confirmed they are treating his death as “unexplained”.

A postmortem examination will now be carried out while officers continue with their death probe.

The street, where Georgian flats have sold recently for up to £420,000, was cordoned off at both ends while a forensic examination was carried out.

One resident, who described the find as “deeply unsettling”, said: “There was a sexual assault in the street seven months ago so this latest thing is worrying. I hope they get to the bottom of it.”

At the Cumberland Bar, a favourite haunt of artists and media professionals, locals were shocked.

One said: “When I got up early this morning the whole street was cordoned off both ways.

“The police were here until about 5pm and there were forensics about. People are really shocked, especially when they heard he was only in his thirties.”

Before the police tape was removed, a number of tourists gathered to have their 
photograph taken as a grim keepsake.

“How sick is that?” said one shocked local, who added: “They were posing like they were standing in front of the Castle.”

Witnesses have also described seeing officers take blankets away from the street.

Detective Inspector Neil Spowart appealed for anyone who heard anything “suspicious” to contact him.

He said: “We are currently at an early stage of our inquiries, and at this time the man’s death is being treated as 
unexplained.

“We are working to establish the circumstances leading to the discovery of the man, and we are keen to hear from any local residents who may have information that can assist our inquiries.

“Anyone who was in the area of Cumberland Street at around 5am, who saw or heard anything suspicious or unusual, should contact police immediately.”

A staff member at the Cumberland Bar said: “The only thing we were told by the police was that it was not an attack. I wanted reassurance on that for the safety of our staff.”

Alistair Duffy, 23, a student who lives in the street, said: “The police were taking everyone’s details this morning. I didn’t hear a disturbance or anything last night. You sometimes get a bit of noise from people walking home from the pubs.”

Another onlooker said he “saw police take away blankets and things from the street”.

Forensic officers are likely to test any material removed for clues as to what happened and help solve the mystery.

Cumberland Street, located off Dundas Street, was the scene of another police investigation into a sexually motivated assault on a 29-year-old woman.

She was grabbed by a man in September last year.

Officers later probed potential links with a sex attack on a 23-year-old woman who was forced to the ground by a man in St Vincent Street two weeks later.

In August 2009, a 27-year-old man was also found dead in the basement garden of an unoccupied townhouse in the New Town.

Mark Hunter was found face down in North Castle Street by a passer-by.

Police later investigated a theory that the supermarket worker was killed by a fall after suffering an epileptic fit.

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com