THREE boys have been arrested in connection with the murder of a man whose battered body was found by worried neighbours.
The blood-covered body of Andrew Smart was found at his home, on Sibthorpe Street, North Shields, by a neighbour who went to investigate after noticing his front door was open on Sunday evening.
A post-mortem has now revealed the 47-year-old died of multiple injuries following a sustained attack.
A murder probe has now been launched by Northumbria Police’s Major Investigations Team. An incident room has been set up at North Shields Police Station.
Three teenage boys, aged 13, 14 and 15, were arrested in connection with the death and have been released on bail.
Last night Det Chief Insp Peter Bent, who is leading the inquiry, appealed for help to piece together what happened to Mr Smart during the last week of his life.
He said: “We are appealing for help from the public to establish how Mr Smart came to suffer these fatal injuries. It would appear he has been beaten to death.
“In particular we want to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard from Andrew Smart in the week before his body was found in the period between Sunday, February 21 and Sunday, February 28.
“Mr Smart lived alone in the house and had only been living there a short time, since Christmas. Officers also want to hear about his lifestyle, how he spent his time, where he went and what he did. All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.”
Neighbours earlier said they believed Mr Smart had reported being bullied in the weeks leading up to his death.
Victoria Pennington, 23, was the first person to venture into the flat, at around 6.30pm, on Sunday. She was persuaded to go inside by another neighbour who thought she could see a body through the window. “When I walked into the flat I could see blood everywhere,” she said. “As soon as we walked through the front door I could see the bathroom and there was blood around the bottom of the toilet. As I walked towards the bedroom I could see a pair of feet.”
Victoria called police and paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 0191 295 6946.