A MURDER inquiry has been launched after the death of a security guard three years after he was brutally attacked at one of the world’s busiest ports.
Jeffrey Lewis, 59, moved from his home near Rowlands Castle to Gibraltar more than five years ago to start a new life.
But, on November 6, 2008, while patrolling the docks, he was assaulted and received a horrific blow to the head by thieves targeting a container full of cigarettes.
The former mechanic was left severely brain damaged and was eventually flown back home to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, where he spent many months.
He died in a care home in Purbrook on October 5 as result of the injuries he sustained.
Royal Gibraltar Police have now launched a murder probe.
Three men have been arrested by police in Gibraltar on suspicion of murder.
Friends and family of Mr Lewis, known as Jeff to most people, spoke of their shock yesterday.
Mr Lewis lived for many decades with his father in Ashcroft Lane, Finchdean, and had worked as a mechanic in Rowlands Castle after leaving school in Warblington.
A 50-year-old neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘He was a really nice guy – it’s a real shame.
‘He went out there to start a new life. He was single and wanted a new life.
‘It’s really sad.’
Relatives of Mr Lewis in Rowlands Castle said he had never been the same after the attack.
They said he was blind and unable to communicate.
One relative, who did not want to be named, said: ‘He had a hole in his head. He never came round at all.
‘He was very genuine and a hard worker. He used to work up the road at the garages.
‘Everybody is very upset about it all.’
The Gibraltar Chronicle reported at the time of the assault that Mr Lewis may have rumbled a raid on the cigarette container, which had cargo worth £100,000.
Detective Chief Inspector Emilio Acris, from Royal Gibraltar Police, said: ‘Mr Lewis suffered very serious injuries as a result of having been assaulted in Gibraltar on the 6 November, 2008.
‘In relation to that incident four persons have been charged in court with charges of theft, robbery and grievous bodily harm with intent. On October 5, 2011, Mr Lewis died as a result of his injuries. A murder inquiry was then set up and three persons out of the four originally charged have been arrested on suspicion of murder and are on police bail.’