A 76-year-old man could have been smothered by someone he knew, according to detectives who have launched a murder inquiry into his death.
The body of Michael Brincat, who was partially disabled and was known to locals in his neighbourhood as 'Maltese Mike', was discovered inside his flat in Devonport, Plymouth, on Wednesday last week.A picture of Mr Brincat has been released by Michael's family in Malta, who told police that the photo was taken on his last visit to Malta and it is around six years old. Police say the photo is of a reasonable up-to-date likeness.
Police last night revealed that they believe Mr Brincat could have been asphyxiated as they announced that the death was being treated as suspicious and the case was now a murder investigation following a post- mortem examination.
A forensic post-mortem investigation has also taken place as officers try to piece together clues to Mr Brincat's last moments.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan said: "This is a complicated crime scene and we do not have a definitive motive.
"We believe Mr Brincat may have been asphyxiated."
Mr Brincat, was found lying on the floor in his Marlborough House flat in Granby Way just after midday on Wednesday, February 6.
Det Supt Burgan added: "Major crime detectives and local neighbourhood staff are now making detailed enquiries to piece together events leading up to the death of Michael Brincat.
"These enquiries include detailed CCTV retrieval, extensive house-to-house inquiries and a comprehensive review of the crime scene."
Chief Superintendent Andy Bickley said: "At that time this incident was treated as an unexplained death.
"However, once the post-mortem examination began on Monday morning it became apparent that a forensic post-mortem test was required, which was carried out yesterday.
"The forensic post-mortem results have since confirmed this is a suspicious death, and as of this morning a full murder inquiry has been launched, which is being managed by the major crime investigation team, being led by Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan.
"Based on what we know so far, we believe this is an isolated incident and we have no information to suggest anyone else is in imminent danger, though we would encourage local people as always, to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately."
While police are reviewing CCTV, officers have urged anyone who can piece together Mr Brincat's last movements to come forward.