POLICE are today trying to work out how a dismembered body in a bin bag came to be on Southsea beach.
Up to 50 officers from Hampshire Police’s major investigation and forensic units spent yesterday meticulously scouring an area of the beach near the Pyramids centre where the torso of a man was found on Monday evening.
It was wrapped in a black bin liner and was discovered by a group of foreign students passing by between 5pm and 5.30pm.
At the moment police do not know the identity of the victim or the killer – and nor do they know whether the body was dumped on the beach or washed up by the sea. They said only that it had been on the beach for some time before it was found.
The beach was cordoned off from Rocksbys Cafe to just past the Pyramids and was closed into the night as police continued their search.
Crime scene investigators carried out a search of the nearby Rock Gardens as part of the inquiry but would not say why they had gone there.
Detectives held a press conference at the scene yesterday afternoon and called on members of the public to help with their inquiries.
Det Insp Adam Price, of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Major Investigation Team, said people who had been in the area between 6am on Monday, July 2 and 6pm on Tuesday, July 3, could hold vital clues.
He confirmed they were dealing with a major murder investigation.
He said: ‘We are appealing for anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously at this location to get in touch.
‘It could have been deposited directly on the beach or could have been from the sea. We don’t know yet.’
Det Insp Price added the wet weather and incoming tide created a ‘challenging environment’ for officers to carry out their search of the area.
He added: ‘We have been in contact with a number of experts throughout the country to assist us and we will use them as and when we need to in the investigation.’
A number of officers from the police’s safer neighbourhood team were dispatched in the area to allay fears from concerned members of the public.
Chief inspector Steve Burridge, from Portsmouth South, confirmed the torso had been discovered by a group of young adults.
He said: ‘Naturally we completely understand how people are and we are very experienced in dealing with these situations.
‘If indeed witnesses come forward they will be dealt with as vulnerable witnesses and the normal support will be provided to them.
‘It’s early days but at the moment we are putting things in place for the neighbourhood teams to be out on the esplanade over the next couple of days.
‘We are now being clear about the information we seek and hopefully we will see a steady flow of information coming in.
‘We completely understand how people may be feeling. The key message is this is a very unusual set of circumstances.’
The gruesome discovery and ongoing police activity shocked passers-by.
Roseanna Ward, from Southsea, said the news of a body being found on the beach had spread, but was shocked to discover it was a torso.
Tony Horne and girlfriend Trisha Stanley travelled from Gosport to spend a day on the seafront.
Mr Horne said: ‘We did not expect this when we came over for the day.’
Miss Stanley added: ‘I feel sorry for the person that found the body’.’
Liz Wall, from Cosham, said: ‘It’s an absolute shock, especially in this area.’
Police have urged anybody who may have any information to call Hampshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.