A WOMAN'S body was found sprawled in an alleyway today after she apparently fell 40ft from the window of a fourth-storey flat.

The Evening Press has learned that the dead woman, who was 34 and from the Acomb area, was one of the squatters who recently occupied the White Swan Hotel, in York city centre.

The woman's partially-clothed body was discovered by a passer-by, Evening Press printer Danny O'Malley, in an alleyway off Bootham at about 5.30am.

Police officers sealed off the path, which is used by schoolchildren and teachers to reach Bootham School, and erected sheets to screen the body from view.

Police said today there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the woman, who has not yet been officially named.

Chris Hartley, who lives in the Georgian terraced house where the flat is situated, with his parents, Elizabeth and Bryan, said he did not know what had happened to the woman, who was a friend who had been staying with the family.

Mrs Hartley said they could not comment further on the incident as they were waiting to be interviewed formally by the police.

The woman is thought to have fallen from a toilet window after leaving a bedroom where she was sleeping with two other members of the squatting group who had been invited to stay temporarily.

Today, other former White Swan Hotel squatters paid tribute to the dead woman, who was originally from Scotland.

Ruby Robinson, 35, said she was a close friend of the woman and they had worked together to campaign against cruelty to animals.

She said: "She was just a very kind woman. She had so much to give with her life."

Squatters who remained in the empty White Swan Hotel, in Piccadilly, were yesterday forced to leave by bailiffs after a judge ruled that their stay was illegal.

Dozens of activists occupied the privately-owned 50-room building for more than a month, renaming it the Rainbow Peace Hotel, and opening it to the general public.

Residents at Wandesford House, a sheltered housing complex for 12 people which overlooks the scene of today's tragedy, were shocked when they heard of the news.

One woman said she had not heard any disturbance during the night.

Bootham School headteacher Ian Small spoke to pupils early today about the incident.

He told the Evening Press that the thoughts of everyone at the school were with the family of the dead woman.

Updated: 15:52 Wednesday, May 21, 2003