By Paul Bentley
The suspect was detained by police on Monday night and is currently in custody at a south London police station.
Three previous arrests have been made. Two males were released with no more action taken and the third bailed pending further enquiries.
David Cooper’s body was found by two friends on the afternoon of Wednesday November 19 at his home in Calderwood Street, SE18. Cooper, 28, had been “viciously assaulted”. A post mortem at Greenwich mortuary gave the cause of death as head injuries.
Possibility of homophobic attack
Detective Chief Inspector Clive Heys is leading the murder inquiry. He said the police were investigating “the possibility that David has died as the result of a homophobic attack” but noted “we retain an open mind regarding its motive”.
Police are appealing for information from people who might have seen Cooper on the night before his body was found. It is clear that he spent the evening with friends in the Old Compton Street area of Soho. He visited a number of venues including Compton’s Bar, Village bar and GAY bar from about 6.30pm. The last confirmed sighting of Cooper is at around 11pm when he left a bar called the Friendly Society.
Appeal to public
Officers were in Soho late on Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning speaking to members of the public and handing out appeal leaflets. Police are also attempting to obtain all relevant CCTV footage to aid the investigation.
They are also working closely with representatives of the local LGBT community. According to research conducted commissioned this year by Stonewall – a lobby group working for gay equality – a third of victims do not report homophobic incidents to the police because they do not think the police would, or could, do anything about it.
Mike Cunningham, lead chief officer on LGBT issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “This is not acceptable. There a real opportunity to make real improvements in terms of raising people’s confidence in reporting these incidents in the first place.” Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, added: “It’s entirely unacceptable in 2008 that anyone should live in fear of attack and abuse simply because of who they are.”
“A gentle soul”
Rachael Picking, 24, was a friend of Cooper who met him four years ago at former gay pub The Union Tavern in Woolwich. She said: “David was a gentle soul who always had a smile on his face. I was devastated to hear what happened. I have lots of gay friends and it’s quite worrying to think that they can’t walk out their doors without fear of being attacked.”
An inquest into the case will open and adjourn on Thursday 26 November at Southwark Coroner’s Court.