policePolice investigating the murder of a Newcastle man with learning disabilities believe his death could be a disability hate crime.

The body of 24-year-old Lee Irving was found on a grassed area in Hazeldene Avenue in Fawdon in Newcastle on the morning of June 6 following reports of concern for a man.

Police and ambulance staff attended and a 24-year-old man was declared dead at the scene. A post mortem was later carried out and the results have led police to launch a murder investigation.

Irving, from Camperdown in East Denton, had learning disabilities and has been described by police as “vulnerable”. One of Northumbria Police’s key lines of enquiry has been to establish whether this was a factor in his death.

Five people – four men and a woman – have been arrested on suspicion of murder and are in police custody.

Newcastle Superintendent Bruce Storey said: “It's thought those involved in this incident know each other. 

“It's important those suspected of being responsible face the consequences of their actions and I would urge anyone who was in Fawdon on Saturday morning, between 7am and 9am, to come forward and speak to us. If they saw anything at all that seemed out of the ordinary, no matter how insignificant they think it is we would ask them to get in contact.

“Five people have been arrested; they remain in custody and are helping with our enquiries.

“Extra officers will continue to carry out patrols in the area to offer reassurance to the local community, who understandably are shocked and appalled by this tragic death.”