Mystery after man found dead in garden of Hampshire country home

Detectives are investigating the mysterious death of a man whose body was found in the garden of a £1.5m country house.

A retired couple who own the six-bedroom home were horrified to find the dead man, aged in his forties, on Sunday morning.

Sheet Common House near Petersfield where a body has been found in the ground. Picture: Morten Watkins/Solent News & Photo Agency'UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

Sheet Common House near Petersfield where a body has been found in the ground. Picture: Morten Watkins/Solent News & Photo Agency'UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

Police descended on the expansive property and today continued to search its grounds in a bid to discover how the man died and where he came from.

The substantial red-brick property in Midhurst Road, which has several acres of garden and a three-berth garage, is owned by Iain Palmer, 70 and his 64 year old wife Susan.

Neighbours in Petersfield said the grisly discovery had been both upsetting and baffling, especially for Susan who found the body when she left the house to go for a run.

A retired man who lives nearby said: ‘Sue found the man at the bottom of her garden. She was going for her morning run.

Police presence at Sheet Common House near Petersfield where a body has been found in the grounds. Picture: Morten Watkins/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

Police presence at Sheet Common House near Petersfield where a body has been found in the grounds. Picture: Morten Watkins/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

‘Sue and Iain are totally bewildered and shocked by it all. As you can imagine it's quite distressing.’

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A female neighbour said: ‘A man's body was found in the garden and police have been around since Sunday morning looking at when and how he died and who he is.

‘It has nothing to do with the owners. They found this man yesterday morning and obviously are very upset by the whole thing.

Police presence at Sheet Common House near Petersfield where a body has been found in the grounds. Picture: Morten Watkins/Solent News & Photo Agency'UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

Police presence at Sheet Common House near Petersfield where a body has been found in the grounds. Picture: Morten Watkins/Solent News & Photo Agency'UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

‘The area has been treated like a crime scene ever since and we've all had the police around.

‘They don't know how he died and none of us know who he is.

‘That's why there's been a lot of speculation and conjecture about what might have happened.

‘Did someone mean him harm? Was he on drugs? Was it a hit and run?

‘The local road - the A272 - is used like a race track these days and so one wonders if he was hit and staggered into the garden.

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‘It's all very strange and it's absolutely not something anyone here would have expected to happen.

‘I went round to see Iain and Susan this morning and they are okay but of course it's an upsetting business.’

A post mortem examination on the body was due to be carried out later today.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘We were called at 9.40am on Sunday to a report that the body of a man in his 40s had been found in a garden in Midhurst Road, Petersfield.

‘Police attended the scene and a cordon remains in place at this time.'

Police said formal identification of the man has not yet taken place and a post mortem examination was due to take place on Monday afternoon.