Police appeal to LGBT+ community for help solving ‘horrific’ London cemetery murder

Ranjith Kankanamalage

The Metropolitan police are calling on the LGBT+ community for help solving the suspected homophobic murder of a gay man in a London cemetery.

The body of Ranjith “Roy” Kankanamalage, 50, was found in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park on the morning of 16 August. A post-mortem examination determined the cause of death was “blunt force trauma to the head”.

A 36-year-old man was initially arrested in connection with the murder but was later released on bail. Now police are keen to engage with the local LGBT+ community to better understand the circumstances of Kankanamalage’s death.

“We are keen to understand the community that Roy chose to live in,” detective superintendent Pete Wallis, the officer in charge of the investigation, told the PA news agency on Friday (3 September).

“We are reaching out to various advisory groups including the LGBT community… so we can learn to understand that community so we can engage with them, and hopefully gain their confidence.”

The force said the incident is being treated as a homophobic hate crime, although detectives are keeping an open mind as the investigation continues.

Officers will be at the park on Sunday (5 September) to distribute leaflets in a bid to find witnesses who saw Kankanamalage in the London cemetery or anywhere else in the hours before his death.

“We’re looking to identify those witnesses who may have seen the victim in the park, and we’ve issued a photograph of him, but also who may have known the victim in the community,” Wallis said.

It comes after the Met was accused of “victim blaming” gay people by warning them to avoid dimly lit areas and “listening to loud music” in response to the murder.

Nicholas Rogers, the Conservative London Assembly member for Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston, tweeted in disbelief: “This is London. This is 2021.

“The police should focus on their actual job: making *all* our city’s streets safe for gay people. We’ll decide the volume of our music, thanks.”

Police are working closely with LGBT charity Galop to keep the community updated as the investigation continues.

Detectives have asked anyone with information to call 0208 345 3865, 101, or Tweet MetCC quoting 1277/16. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.