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Stuart Walker found burned by roadside in Cumnock

image captionStuart Walker was last seen alive two hours before his body was discovered

Police investigating the murder of a man whose burned body was found beside an Ayrshire road have said they are following a positive line of inquiry.

Stuart Walker from Cumnock, was found dead with "horrible injuries" near Caponacre Industrial Estate, Cumnock, just before 05:00 on Saturday.

It is thought the 28-year-old had been beaten and burned.

Detectives said there was nothing to suggest the attack was a homophobic crime, but refused to rule it out.

Det Insp John Hogg, of Strathclyde Police, said: "We are still working towards identifying a motive for this murder. I am aware of all the speculation in the media regarding Mr Walker and his death.

"At this time we have nothing to indicate that this is a homophobic crime. Until we know the exact circumstances surrounding this murder, we will not rule anything out and will keep an open mind on any possible motive for his terrible crime.

"There have also been reports that Mr Walker was tied to a post, this is not the case."

'Extremely violent'

He added: "He was found lying on the roadside and although we are not going to go into specific details on the cause of death, it was an extremely violent crime and our focus at this time is finding those responsible and bringing them to justice."

media captionThe BBC's Raymond Buchanan said police had described his injuries as "horrific"

Det Insp Hogg said Mr Walker was last seen alive about two hours before he was killed.

"The facts that we have confirmed at this time is that Stuart had been out with friends in the Cumnock area from Friday night into early Saturday morning and was last seen alive by a family friend near to the fire station in Glaisnock Street around 02:30 hours on Saturday morning," he said.

"We are still trying to establish where he was between 02:30 and 04:50 hours and who he was with. Officers from the inquiry team are still carrying out extensive inquiries in the local area and studying CCTV footage in an effort to gather further information that will assist their inquiries.

"We are still urging anyone who was at any nearby house parties in the nearby Netherthird housing estate in the early hours of the morning to come forward as a matter of urgency as they may have unwittingly witnessed something which is vital to this investigation."

'People shocked'

Adam Ingram, the SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said Mr Walker's death had shaken the local community.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "People are shocked and horrified.

"Stuart was a very nice young man, very popular and well-known within the Cumnock community, and their thoughts and hearts are going out to the family at the moment.

"It's shocking and horrifying, and it's come completely out of the blue. It's clearly shaken the local community."

Mr Ingram said he understood that vigils had been taking place in the area.

He added: "Stuart was very well-known and popular in the area, and I understand there have been many visits to the family home."

Family and friends described Mr walker as a "true friend and gentleman".

Hundreds of tributes have also been posted on Facebook.

A post from Karen Nicol on a page called RIP Stuart Walker, which almost 4,500 people have joined, read: "Life is so unfair. A genuine guy who always had a smile, a wave or a big cheery hello for everyone. Cumnock an emptier place without you for lots of people."

Anne Dunnachie wrote: "Every once in a while we are lucky enough to have known someone like you Stuart. A very special person...the world lost a wonderful person yesterday."

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