Neighbours’ horror as Lancaster murder inquiry launches

A man was found dead on Laburnum Grove in Lancaster.
A man was found dead on Laburnum Grove in Lancaster.

Marsh estate residents woke in shock this morning after a 41-year-old man was found dead at his home on Laburnum Grove.

Tributes have been paid to John Houston, from Lancaster, who was found dead by police at around 1.45pm on Monday April 4.

A 43-year-old man from Lancaster has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in police custody.

Neighbours expressed their “utter disbelief” as police filled the road and nearby Cedar Road yesterday.

A Cedar Road resident who did not wish to be named, said: “We have never had a murder here before.

“A few fights now and then but nothing like this. I saw my next door neighbour running down the road to get to John’s sister and mum and I was thinking ‘oh god something is going on here’.

“John had been in the shop, McColl’s, Saturday night getting some beers and that was the last time one of the neighbours saw him, but that was John. He would sometimes lock himself away for a couple of days.

“I knew him since he was little. He went to Marsh Primary School, he was no trouble, he would never hurt anybody. He used to have parties in his back garden. Nothing wild, he just liked to have a drink with his mates.”

Another Cedar Road resident said she knew something was wrong when she heard John’s sister screaming at the top of her voice.

She said: “I could hear her screaming at the top of her voice ‘my brother, my brother.’ It is such a shock. I went down to get her mum but I left them then.

“John was a good lad. He didn’t work and him and his family moved here many years ago from Scotland. My son was his best friend. “John’s mum was told he had been in a fight and she said to me ‘I have been expecting this.’ But you can never imagine your child dying before you. It is awful.”

Maureen Knowles and Joseph Knowles of Laburnum Grove said John was a very “quiet man” but they would always say hello to each other from across the street.

The couple have lived on Laburnum Grove for more than 50 years and said nothing like this has ever happened before.

Mrs Knowles said: “It is a total shock. We have never had any bother or trouble around here. John was a very quiet man but a lot of people knew him. The police have been here all night.”

Another Cedar Road resident said: “John’s family are lovely, it is such a shame what has happened, it is so sad. I have only lived here a few months but I have always wanted to live on this estate. John’s mum gave me her sofa when I moved in, they are just lovely people.”

A resident known as “Tank” said: “John used to play football with me for Victoria FC, he was a midfielder, he was a great lad.”

Police are keen to piece together Mr Houston’s last movements from Saturday, April 2 onwards.

Detective Inspector Simon Dent from Lancaster CID said: “If anyone has information that could assist us with our enquiries, particularly those from the Marsh estate who may have seen John in the lead-up to his death, I would urge them to come forward and speak to us.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting incident reference number 686 of April 4.

Alternatively Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org

Mr Houston’s family are being supported by specially trained officers. A post mortem examination will take place in due course.