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Pals mourn Witney jeweller Melvin Hillier as inquiry into death continues
A MAN who died in Carterton has been described by friends as the “original rogue” who would bend over backwards to help people.
Melvin Hillier, 52, of Witney, was found dead in a flat at the Tower Centre, in Alvescot Road, on Thursday morning.
A 27-year-old woman and 48-year-old man from Carterton and a 59-year-old man of no fixed address were arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder.
Mr Hillier was brought up in Woodstock, worked as a jeweller, owned a pawn shop in London and later worked on a market stall in Witney.
He was planning to reopen his Market Square stall and had been making necklaces and ear-rings in preparation.
Dawn Bartlett, 37, who had known Mr Hillier for about 12 years, said: “He was just somebody who was always there for me.
“He was outgoing and fun – he had a zest for life – and always liked to have people around him.
“He had just started making jewellery again and was going to get a store down in Witney. He had plans for the future.”
She added: “I was devastated when I found out. I don’t know how to feel.”
Bob Haydon, 49, who had known Mr Hillier for almost five years, said: “Melvin was the original rogue, but a likeable rogue.
“He would bend over backwards to help people and he had great stories about his time running a pawn shop called Uncle Sam’s, in Tottenham High Road.
“He was very knowledgeable about watches. If it was broken you could give it to him and he would fix it, and he could tell you about the value of any item.”
He added: “I’m devastated by what has happened. I saw the guy on a daily basis.
“In the past four-and-a-bit years I cared for him and did jobs for him around his home.
“My thoughts are with him and his family.”
Mr Hillier, who was brought up in Woodstock, had a diploma from the British Jewellers’ Association and worked in London during the 1980s and earlier 1990s.
He moved to Witney to get married and be closer to his family but was then involved in a car accident that left him with disabilities.
He ran a stall in Witney's Market Square selling watches for about a year in the mid-1990s and recently lived in a block of flats in Bourton Close.
Mr Hillier also had a passion for animals and had a couple of leopard geckos, a dog named Max and a cat. In the past he kept a bird- eating tarantula.
He was separated and had two brothers and a late twin sister. His father, who ran a construction firm in Woodstock, died just over a year ago.
A post mortem found that he died from bleeding on the brain caused by a blow to the head. Further tests are to be carried out.
Police were yesterday granted an extension to remand the three people arrested in custody for a further 12 hours.
Det Ch Insp Ian Hunter said: “This is quite a complex investigation and we are continuing to speak with a number of people including those in custody about the circumstances leading up to Mr Hillier’s death. We are keeping an open mind as the investigation progresses.
“Our thoughts are with his family and we have appointed a family liaison officer to support them at this time.”
Anyone wth information should call police on 101.