DETECTIVES have been given additional time to question a 26-year-old man in connection with the murder of a former York businessman.

Beverley Magistrates this morning granted Humberside Police an extra 36 hours to detain the suspect in custody.

The Norton man has been held for questioning at a police station in Hull since being arrested in Malton on Monday evening.

More than 100 police officers and staff are now investigating the death of antiques dealer Peter Battle, 56, who police say may have lain dead for weeks on the lounge floor of his home, Whisker Cottage in Full Sutton near Stamford Bridge.

Detectives said yesterday they had reason to believe items such as silver cutlery, rare coins, sovereign and half-sovereign rings and a black and silver Advent laptop may have been stolen since Mr Battle died, and they urged anyone offered such items for sale to contact police. They also asked anyone who had spoken to or seen Mr Battle since Boxing Day to contact them.

Detective Chief Inspector Alistair McFarlane, of Humberside Police, who is leading the inquiry, said Mr Battle was known to deal in silver and gold and in particular half-sovereign and sovereign rings, coins and cutlery.

He regularly frequented auction houses in the Yorkshire area and was a regular trader on the internet auction site eBay.

DCI McFarlane said there was no sign of a break-in at the rural cottage, and police believed someone had visited the property after his death, which a post-mortem examination had confirmed was caused by severe head injuries.

“We also have information suggesting that a person or persons may have been visiting the property in the weeks preceding the discovery of Mr Battle’s body,” he said.

He said police were speaking to auction houses, including those in York, as well as eBay, to ascertain if anyone had been attempting to sell such items.

Mr Battle, who previously ran a computer repair business based in Acomb and was director for a marketing firm, Barton Trott Battle, based at Clifton Moor, conducted a lot of business in recent times through eBay, but his last transactions on the site were in mid-December.

DCI McFarlane said police broke into the cottage last Thursday after a concerned friend, who was unable to contact Mr Battle, raised the alarm. They found him suffering from severe head injuries, probably caused by a blunt instrument.

Officers were yesterday searching undergrowth on the road between Full Sutton and the A166 for any items of significance, including a possible murder weapon.

“We have a substantial number of officers and staff working on the investigation with forensic examination of the scene continuing and other lines of inquiry being actively pursued,” said DCI McFarlane.

“This is a serious crime and we are keen to bring the killers of Peter Battle to justice.

“If you know anything which may assist us in our inquiries phone Humberside Police on the non-emergency number 101 quoting log number 492 of February 7, or directly to the incident room on 01377 208989. Alternatively, calls can be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”