UPDATE: Murder investigation after Fernhurst fire

The scene of the fire on Thursday morning (January 24) Picture by Eddie Mitchell
The scene of the fire on Thursday morning (January 24) Picture by Eddie Mitchell

OFFICERS from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team have launched a murder investigation into the death of a man in a fire in a house in Fernhurst yesterday (January 24).

The man has not been formally identified, but is believed to be 59-year-old Michael Griffiths who lived at the house in Old Glebe, He was found dead inside by the door of his home by firefighters who were called to the scene at 7.42am.

Detective chief inspector Jeff Riley, who is leading the investigation, said: “When police and fire investigators were able to enter the property, it was established that Mr Griffiths’s body had been lying by the front door, blocking entry and forcing firefighters to remove the door to get in.

“On Thursday evening we were advised by our fire service colleagues that there was a suspicious seat of fire near a window in the lounge at the rear of the property. Additionally, a couple of windows appeared to have been opened before the fire took hold.

“We are now treating Mr Griffiths’s death as suspicious and a murder investigation has now commenced. A postmortem will be carried out in Chichester on Friday afternoon.

“In the meantime, detectives and local police officers and PCSOs will be talking to neighbours and others in the area. If you have any information that you feel may be relevant or are concerned about what has happened, please feel free to talk to them.”

It is understood that Mr Griffiths lived alone at the house and there was nobody else in the property at the time of the fire.

Mr Griffiths worked for many years at John Nicholson’s Fine Art Auctioneers, in Fernhurst.

Residents of Fernhurst said he was a very popular and much-loved local figure in the village.