Homeless man found dead in graveyard had been sprayed in paint attack
A homeless man who was found dead in a graveyard had been sprayed with paint three days earlier in a separate assault, police have said.
Flowers and cards have been left by the wall in Normanby, Middlesbrough, where red paint could still be seen at the spot where the man who was in his 30s used to sit.
According to reports, someone uploaded a video onto social media of the homeless man being sprayed, with a voice saying: "This is how we deal with beggars on the street."
It has since been deleted.
Cleveland Police said it received a report about the assault on Sunday and a body was found a few minutes walk away in Eston Cemetery on Wednesday.
There were no suspicious circumstances, the force said.
A force spokeswoman said: "A post-mortem examination has been held and although the death is not being treated as suspicious police believe this man was the victim of a previous incident of assault which resulted in the man being sprayed with red paint."
Detective Inspector Matt Hollingsworth said: "Police are aware of the speculation on social media regarding the cause of the man's death but we are not linking the assault with his death."
A retired couple stopped at the scene where the man was covered in paint to look at the flowers.
The woman said: "I hope they catch whoever did it.
"You used to see him in the summer, he used to sit out here with his shirt off getting a sun tan."
Her husband added: "He was harmless, he was a really nice guy.
"We never heard anything ill said about him."
Anyone with information about the incident with the paint behind the Tesco store in Normanby is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.