POLICE were last night trying to piece together the movements of a silver van after a man’s body was discovered inside.
Officers made the grim discovery after forcing their way into the Mercedes, which was parked at the Burger King car park in Cowley’s Oxford Retail Park.
A member of the public had reported seeing a liquid coming out of the vehicle shortly before 12.30pm.
And Burger King staff later told detectives the van had been parked up for about a week.
Chief Inspector Yvette Hitch
Chief Inspector Yvette Hitch, deputy Oxford area commander, last night said the death was not suspicious as there were no signs of violence.
She said: “Police gained entry to the van and found the body of a deceased male who we would estimate to be in his mid 40s. We are treating it as an unexplained death.”
Ch Insp Hitch last night said the man had not been identified and the amount of time he had been in the van could make identification harder.
But she said it was not being treated as suspicious.
The area was cordoned off by police for the afternoon and a blue tent erected around the van.
About 10 officers were on scene and five police cars nearby.
Forensic police were seen going in and out of the tent before an ambulance arrived to take the body away. The van was taken away by a truck at about 6pm.
Officers were yesterday running checks on the vehicle’s registration and also looking at CCTV to determine how long the body may have been there.
Shoppers and retail park staff spoke of their shock at the discovery.
Headington’s Mel Grant, 50, was shopping when he saw officers breaking into the silver van at about 1pm.
He said: “It took them about 20 minutes to get inside.
“They had crowbars and metal battering rams.”
He added: “A couple of officers then looked inside and then walked away.”
Another witness, Dave Tainton, said he saw what looked like blood coming from the van and said there was a bad odour in the area.
Forensic investigators at the scene
A retail park worker, who asked not to be named, had said his manager had told him that it was gardening contractors at Burger King who had raised concerns while working in the car park.
Greater Leys teenager Chloe Waine, 18, said: “I had come here for lunch, and didn’t expect to see this. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Botley man Roger Bolton, 61, said it was an upsetting sight. He said: “It is not something you want to see, especially when there are kids around.”
And Blackbird Leys resident Karen Shepherd, 38, said the scene saddened her. She said: “It is someone’s family member, whatever the circumstances.”
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed
Our top stories
- Oxford United v Swindon Town - UPDATES
- CLARIFICATION: Hygiene report of Delight 2 in Didcot
- Man 'obsessed' with BBC journalist goes on trial after allegedly breaching restraining order against her
- Families urged to consider signing up for organ donation
- Oxford United send match tickets to fans caught up in season ticket delay
- Five things you need to know in Oxfordshire today