A DELIVERY driver has died after being attacked at the takeaway where he worked.
The man, named locally as John Auld, was assaulted outside the Kopas takeaway in the High Street in Tranent, East Lothian, at around 5pm yesterday.
Police said they were treating the death of the 59-year-old army veteran as “suspicious” and appealed for witnesses to a “disturbance” at the premises to come forward.
Officers added that they were following a “positive line of inquiry” in the investigation.
Residents said they believed Mr Auld may have suffered a heart attack after coming to the aid of the takeaway’s owner, who had been attacked first.
Mr Auld was given first-aid in the street, initially by people in the area then by paramedics, before he was rushed to hospital by ambulance with a police escort.
Witnesses described seeing a man covered with blood being helped at the scene while at least one man was being detained by police officers beside the takeaway.
Tributes were today paid to the “gentle giant”, who was known by the nickname “Chopper”, and was described as a “lovely man who would help anyone”.
Mr Auld, who lived in nearby Ormiston, was understood to stay with a partner.
Forensic officers in white suits were carrying out an examination of the scene late last night, with most of the High Street cordoned off to vehicles and pedestrians.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “There was some kind of fracas at the takeaway with the owner being assaulted. He’s tried to help and this has happened. I’ve known him for years, he used to knock around with my uncle. He would do a good turn for anybody. He wasn’t a violent man at all, He would only be trying to help.
“He was in the army years ago but I was told he had a heart condition. He was a gentle giant who must have been about 20 stone. He was a lovely man who would help anyone.
“It’s a terrible thing. He was someone who was known and liked throughout the community.”
Another resident said: “I heard that the owner of the takeaway was assaulted by a couple of customers who came in for food. The driver’s been trying to help him and had a heart attack. I was told he collapsed in the street and died on the way to the hospital.
“It’s terrible news because he was a really lovely guy.”
Adnan Ali, 36, who runs the nearby Aliz takeaway, said: “My delivery driver came back and told me he saw someone covered in blood being helped by police beside Kopas. I don’t know if he was stabbed or what. He said another guy was being surrounded by a number of police officers.
“A few minutes later I saw an ambulance go past my shop with two cars in front of it with their lights flashing.”
Nicol Benn, 19, a part-time support worker who lives in Tranent, said: “I was told a couple of guys went into the takeaway and the owner’s been attacked. The delivery guy has been trying to help the owner and he’s suffered a heart attack.
“People tried to resuscitate him in the street then the paramedics took over when the ambulance arrived.”
A police spokesman said “We are appealing for anyone who was in the area of the Kopas takeaway shop at 71 High Street, Tranent between 4.30 pm and 5.30 pm yesterday, and who may have seen a disturbance or anything suspicious to contact us on 0131 311 3131 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
“Members of the public can also contact local police officers who will be in the area.”