A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after the death of a well-known Morpeth karaoke star.
Michael Marshall, who was known locally as Little Elvis, died on Tuesday, two hours after an altercation at Sanderson Arcade in the town centre.
A 55-year-old man was arrested and released with no further action and a 49-year-old man has been released on police bail after he was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Mr Marshall, 52, died following an incident outside the Corbridge Larder at about 3.30pm on Tuesday.
Police say there was a “verbal altercation”, before he was assaulted. It is not thought that any weapon was used.
Staff from Sanderson Arcade rushed to help and an off-duty nurse and lifeguard administered first aid before paramedics arrived. An assistant from the Corbridge Larder is also believed to have helped.
Mr Marshall was taken to Wansbeck General Hospital, but he died shortly after 5.30pm, and the hospital alerted police to the incident at about 6.30pm. A cordon was later set up around the scene. It was removed in the early hours of yesterday.
Toilet attendant Michelle Stewart, who was one of the first on the scene at the time of the incident, said: “Someone came in and said a man had collapsed at the back of the bus station so I went out to see if I knew him, but the Sanderson Arcade staff were there and somebody was working on him. I was asked to help move the barriers at the Corbridge Larder around them and then the woman wanted a plastic bag so I went into the Larder and got one, then I just helped move chairs and direct people away.
“I got a phone call at about 8.45pm that night to say the arcade was cordoned off so I went down to see if I would be able to get to my job in the morning, but they couldn’t tell me anything.
“I was shocked in the morning to find out that the man had died.”
Gwen Hezmalhalch, who runs Perfect Perfumes and Accessories in the area, was also shocked.
“When it happened everyone just thought someone had collapsed, which is the sort of thing that would happen,” she said.
“The nurse who helped the man came in the shop and said they had managed to bring him round so at that point I thought that was it and at least he had made a recovery. It was a bit of a shock when I heard he had died. You just don’t expect something like this to happen.”
Mr Marshall was a regular at The Black Bull in Morpeth and Morpeth Comrades Club, where he also served on the committee for a time.
Chairman Dennis Wheadon said: “We all just knew him as Little Elvis. I haven’t been in the club yet, but obviously it will be a bit of a shock to the club.
“It will be weird at the weekend when there is a gap where he normally stood.
“He loved the karaoke, which is where he got his name from. We have that on a Saturday and he would always come in for that. He used to go into Newcastle and then come back to us. He was just a little character.”
Staff from Isos Housing were at Mr Marshall’s street in Stobhill yesterday and neighbours spoke of their distress at hearing of his death.
Tara Elliott said: “I just heard about it this morning. Everyone knew Little Elvis, he kept himself to himself, but he was a well-known character in the area.”
Another resident said: “Everyone knew him, he used to be a window cleaner. He loved the karaoke and he always introduced himself as ‘Little Elvis’.
He was always singing in the pubs — I’ve sung with him before.”
James Hawkes said he had unwittingly walked past his neighbour at the time of the incident.
“I was going through the arcade when they were cordoning it off and when I heard what had happened on the wireless in the morning I realised that is what it must have been. At the time I thought there must have just been something wrong with the kerbs.
“Little Elvis was such a friendly lad and I always spoke to him when he went past. I always said hello.”
Police are studying CCTV from the arcade as part of the investigation and have appealed for witnesses.
They are also keen to talk to the off-duty nurse and lifeguard who went to Mr Marshall’s assistance.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Binks, who is leading the investigation, said: “I would appeal for anyone who was the area at the time of the incident and who may have seen the altercation to contact police.”
A spokeswoman for Sanderson Arcade said: “At 3.35pm on Tuesday centre staff were alerted that a man was reported to be unconscious on the ground.
“We responded immediately and first aid was administered with the assistance of an off-duty nurse, as well as an off-duty paramedic. The man was taken to hospital by ambulance.
“We are assisting the police with their ongoing investigations and would like to thank everyone for their assistance and co-operation during this incident.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 03456 043043, ext 69191.