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Was 79-year-old killed because he was gay?

PUBLISHED: 16:46 23 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:58 25 August 2010

DI Steve Warrilow (right) near the murder scene

DI Steve Warrilow (right) near the murder scene

FRIENDS of a murdered 79-year-old gay man fear he may have been the victim of a homophobic attack. Neighbours and friends are reeling from the shock murder of Edward Highwood who was found dead by a housemate at 3pm last Saturday in Hollymount Close, Gre

KILLED: Edward Highwood

FRIENDS of a murdered 79-year-old gay man fear he may have been the victim of a homophobic attack.

Neighbours and friends are reeling from the shock murder of Edward Highwood who was found dead by a housemate at 3pm last Saturday in Hollymount Close, Greenwich.

A post-mortem revealed he died from head injuries.

There were no signs of forced entry, leading one friend to speculate that he invited someone into his home.

Known as Teddy, Mr Highwood befriended female residents and was known for wearing flamboyant, dapper clothing.

One friend who lives opposite, who didn't want to be named, said: "I can't believe he's gone in this way. It is so sad because he was always cheerful, sprightly and wearing bright clothes.

"A police officer told me that there was no sign of forced entry and I can only think that Teddy invited someone in. It's horrible, just awful.

"I know that he regularly goes out on Friday nights.

"I suppose you just have to be very careful who you let in."

On Saturday afternoon she saw police at the scene who taped off the entrance to the close.

She added: "My friend rang to say she had seen a black private ambulance go in and she had a horrid feeling it was Teddy."

Described as "harmless", she said Mr Highwood was also known to volunteer at a shopping precinct in the borough to help elderly wheelchair users.

Neighbour Gary Sewell, 25, has lived opposite the close with partner Julia Hardy, 26, for nearly three years.

He said: "When I looked out the window on Saturday there was pure chaos, police were all over the place.

"I'm just in shock at what happened so close to our home. When the police came round and told us I couldn't believe it.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before, it feels like a safe place to live, pretty quiet."

Police have said they are keeping an open mind as to the killer's motives but confirmed that a silver-edged 17-inch Hewlett-Packard computer screen had been stolen.

At the murder scene Detective Inspector Steve Warrilow, of the Specialist Crime Directorate, based in Sutton, said: "There is no information or indication at the moment to suggest that this is a homophobic murder.

"I can confirm the victim is a gay man. He was discovered dead by one of two co-habitants living at the property with Mr Highwood.

"I'm appealing for any witnesses that may have seen the victim between 3pm on Friday, July 17 and 3pm Saturday, July 18 to come forward.

"If anyone saw him or was with him during this time could they please contact us."

The number to call is 020 8721 4054 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

* Marcin Orlowski, 20, of no fixed address, was due to appear at Sutton Magistrates Court on Monday (July 27) charged with the murder of Mr Highwood.

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