Police re-open probe into Harrogate man’s death

Police picture of Robert Pride McLeod
Police picture of Robert Pride McLeod
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Detectives said today they have reopened the investigation into the death of Harrogate man Robert Pride-McLeod eight years on from his death.

Mr Pride-McLeod, 49, was found dead in a cellar in a homeless hostel on Robert Street, Harrogate, on January 21 2007, just a few days after he was made homeless.

Police believe he was assaulted prior to his death and yesterday detectives said they were determined to find out what had happened to him and to get some answers for his family.

Mr Pride-McLeod, who was ill at the time and needed a Zimmer frame to get around, was made homeless on January 12 2007 and was given a room on the first floor of the hostel. At the time he only weighed five stone.

The following Monday morning his room was checked and he wasn’t there. Despite police appeals for information, nobody has ever come forward to say they saw him after he was helped to his room by a security guard when he arrived at the hostel. He was found dead later that week.

The coroner recorded an open verdict at the inquest into Mr Pride-McLeod’s death, however a post-mortem examination revealed that he had a head injury and the police believe that he was assaulted prior to his death.

Three people were arrested during the initial investigation and released without charge.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit are reviewing the case and are appealing for people with information to come forward.

Det Insp Mark Pearson, who is leading the investigation, said: “It is more than eight years since Robert was found dead in a cellar in Harrogate and we still don’t know exactly what happened to him.

“From the evidence obtained during the initial investigation in 2007 it is believed that Robert was assaulted after he was taken in at the hostel. However, despite that investigation there are still a number of unanswered questions. Who assaulted Robert? How did he come to be in the cellar? Did someone put him there?

“Where Robert lived is no longer a homeless hostel but at the time there were seven rooms and a flat which were occupied. Were you a resident there the weekend Robert arrived? Were you visiting someone at the hostel that weekend? Did you see what happened to Robert? Have you heard anything about what happened to Robert since?”

Officers are determined to find out what happened to Robert and get some answers for his family.

Mr Pearson added: “Robert died alone in a cold cellar. Nobody’s life should end in this manner and I want to find out what happened to him.

“At the time of the initial enquiry people may have been reluctant, for whatever reason, to come forward. It is now eight years on and people’s lives will have moved on considerably, and loyalties and perspectives change over time.

“Somebody knows what happened to Robert and I am appealing to them to talk to us so that we can get some answers for Robert’s family.”

Robert had changed his name around five years prior to his death. His sister, Christine, who lives in America and calls him by his previous name, Timothy, said: “Timothy did not deserve to die in such sad and lonely circumstances and deserves justice.

“I would like to take the opportunity to ask the people of Harrogate to help the police find out what happened to Timothy in that hostel and how he came to end his days in the cellar.”

Anyone who can help officers with their enquiries is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 2 – and ask for the Major Crime Unit. Alternatively, information can emailed to MajorCrimeUnit@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk