Woman Found Dead At House Near Petersfield

7 June 2010, 09:56 | Updated: 7 June 2010, 10:17

The brother of a West Sussex woman found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs in suspicious circumstances has spoke of their family's shock at her sudden death.

Jonathan Head said Lorraine Head, known as George, had shown "real guts and determination to live an independent life'' as detectives pieced together events surrounding her death. In a statement issued through Sussex Police, Mr Head said: "We are deeply shocked by the sudden death of Lorraine 'George' Head. "George was outgoing, funny and showed real guts and determination to live an independent life. She was loved by many and was a popular member of the community. She will be dearly missed by her friends and family.''

Ms Head, 46 and single, was found on Friday night with a head injury at the cottage where she lived in Kings Head Mews, Rogate. A post-mortem examination carried out at St Richard's Hospital in Chichester confirmed that death resulted from the head injury but further forensic tests are taking place to establish fuller detail.

Police said there were no signs of a break-in at the cottage and nothing had been stolen. Officers also said there were no other suspicious injuries to her body and no weapon is thought to have been involved. Ms Head was known to have been alive earlier in the evening and detectives think her death took place sometime within the three hour period before she wasfound. A 57-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder was released on bail until July 7 late on Saturday night, a police spokesman said.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Johns, of Sussex Police's Major Crime Branch, said on Sunday: "Lorraine's head injury is consistent with her having fallen down the stairs, and at this stage one of our principal lines of inquiry focuses on the possible reasons for that.''

He said villagers were "very upset'' by the death, but reassured them that the death was an "isolated event'' and officers were working hard to gain a full picture of what happened to her.