An Inverness garage owner has died following an alleged dispute with a neighbour in a quiet area of the city.
Police, who are treating the death as suspicious, said they were alerted to reports of an altercation between two men in the Black Park area on Monday evening.
The force confirmed last night the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was John Birrell, 55.
A second man, aged 65, and named locally as retired surgeon Dr Hamish Towler, has been arrested.
A post mortem examination is being carried out and police say inquiries are continuing.
A spokeswoman said: “Around 6pm on Monday 17 August 2020, police were called to Black Park, Leachkin Hill Road, Inverness, following a report of an altercation between two men.
“Emergency services attended and a 55-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. A post mortem examination will be carried out in due course to establish the exact cause of death, which officers are currently treating as suspicious.
“A 65-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and inquiries are continuing.”
It is believed Dr Towler, a retired eye surgeon who moved up from the London area, and his wife are originally from Aberdeenshire and bought an old farmhouse on the hill above Inverness near Craig Phadrig.
Yesterday the normally peaceful and secluded location of only a handful of detached houses a few miles from the centre of Inverness was busy with police activity. Detectives made door to door inquiries, while uniformed officers guarded Mr Birrell’s home, Black Park House, and a nearby two-storey property.
Specialist officers also deployed a drone to scan the area while a five-strong team wearing gloves and masks made a painstaking search of grass verges and undergrowth on either side of the narrow, single-track road that leads into the Black Park area. The team also searched a ditch that runs adjacent to the road, as well as household bins.
Mr Birrell’s bungalow sits at the end of the road, with panoramic views over the Beauly Firth. A Range Rover with personalised number plate sat in the drive, along with other vehicles including a speed boat and motorhome.
Two women who visited the house yesterday declined to comment. Shocked neighbours living close to Mr Birrell’s house also said they did not wish to comment.
Mr Birrell was a well-known businessman who operated a garage, Birrell’s MOT and Service Centre and the adjoining business, North Coast Customs, in the city’s Carse industrial estate.
Both businesses remained open yesterday but staff said they did not wish to comment.
Highland councillor Janet Campbell said: “I’m shocked and greatly saddened to hear about John’s passing. As a former customer of his, I always found him to be the complete professional and an absolute gentleman. That is always how I found John Birrell.”
Fellow councillor Alex Graham said: “I’m very sorry to hear this sad news and his family and friends are very much in our thoughts at this time.”
Friends of Mr Birrell also posted tributes on social media. One said: “Such a shock. John was such a kind man and so helpful to my parents with their cars over many years.
Another said: “So sorry to hear this devastating news for John’s family. I have been a loyal customer since I moved to Inverness 10 years ago. Lovely man and great mechanic.”
And another: “Rest in peace John. The motor trade in the city has lost a legend.”