MURDER police have appealed for witnesses after Tuesday’s discovery of a man’s body in the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth.

Armed officers swooped on a flat above Downes Wine Bar on Lansdowne Road just before 5pm when the man’s body was discovered.

Rumours spread almost immediately that the victim had been decapitated.

Detectives investigating the murder said enquiries had revealed that a man left the scene along Holdenhurst Road in the direction of Bournemouth railway station.

A spokesman added: “As this was a busy time of day, police urge if anyone saw anything suspicious or have any information about this incident, to call the police in confidence on 101, quoting incident number 17:354.”

Police have not yet formally identified the victim and said more details would be released once the next of kin had been informed.

A forensic post morterm examination was due to be carried out yesterday afternoon and an inquest is likely to be opened in the coming days.

The Dorset Police helicopter circled overhead and three ambulances were called while the area was cordoned off as forensics officers examined the scene for clues.

Following a search a male suspect was handcuffed in nearby Beechey Road and driven away in an estate car.

An eyewitness said: “He was lying on the ground on his side; it looked like he had blood on his knees. He was a young man; he looked like in his late teens or early 20s.

“A policeman was standing over him and there were four other officers; some were armed. We watched as he was driven away at speed.”

A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

He remains in custody assisting the police with their investigation.

Beechey Road was taped off between Lansdowne Road and Wellington Road near the private Nuffield Hospital while investigators scoured the area.

A white scientific investigation van was parked at the rear entrance to the flats above the wine bar which overlooks the town’s police station.

Forensics officers were marking out what appeared to be a blood spot trail leading from an alleyway near the flats.

Another Daily Echo source said he had heard a woman shouting out a Spanish man’s name before the alarm was raised.

A Dorset police spokesman confirmed that a man was helping detectives with their inquiries, adding: “We attended an address on Lansdowne Road after receiving a report that a man had been seriously attacked.

“An immediate search took place and a man was arrested along Beechey Road. The death is being treated as suspicious.”

Efforts were being made to trace the dead man’s next of kin and, at the time of going to press, he had not yet been formally identified.

The officer in charge of the case is DI Stewart Balmer.

One woman, returning to the area to collect her dogs, said the flat in question was home to Spanish students.

Another resident said he had heard a commotion in the flat at around 10.30am.

Another, Nick Edwards, 30, a self-employed private hire driver, only moved into his flat in the area the previous night.

“This is my first day here. It's quite a shock,” he said.

A man in his 20s arrived at the scene on Tuesday night and told the Echo he did not live there but knew the dead man. He was taken away in a police car.

A 69-year-old woman leaving the Nuffield Hospital said she had been told that a man had been decapitated and that another man had been arrested outside the hospital.

A man in his 80s living near Beechey Road said: “I heard screams and shouting and then I heard all the police cars.”

Beechey Road had re-opened by around 8.30pm.

Rumours circulated that the arrested man had sought first aid at the Nuffield Hospital, but a spokeswoman said no one involved had sought or received treatment there.

The East Dorset Coroner has been informed and an inquest will be held. Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the vicinity of Lansdowne Road or can help with police inquiries should phone 101 and quote incident number 17:354.