Lebanon: British radio DJ Gavin Ford murdered in Beit Mery home

Gavin Ford, one of the most popular radio presenters in Lebanon, was found dead in his home east of Beirut.

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    Gavin Ford was a longtime resident of Lebanon and fixture of morning radio [Facebook]
    Gavin Ford was a longtime resident of Lebanon and fixture of morning radio [Facebook]

    Beirut, Lebanon - Gavin Ford, one of Lebanon's most popular radio presenters, was found dead in his home in the hills of Beit Mery near the capital, Beirut.

    Ford, a British citizen, was found reportedly covered in blood in his bedroom on Tuesday, with police confirming it was a murder without putting forward a motive.

    Police said that Ford's car appeared to have been stolen at the same time, although they did not directly link the theft to the killing.

    An-Nahar, a local newspaper, reported that Ford's arms had been bound and he had been strangled with a piece of cloth. The Associated Press news agency also quoted an unnamed official who confirmed Ford was strangled.

    Ford's voice enthralled the Lebanese for 20 years. He was the host of the breakfast show for Radio One, an English-language music channel in Lebanon. A household name, his killing has left his fans in shock.

    Hiba Abboud listened to him as a teenager over a decade and a half ago. She remembered him with fondness and said: "Gavin made everyone's morning. He was always upbeat and his was the cool show to listen to." Abboud called his untimely demise a loss for Lebanon adding that "A piece of Lebanon is now missing. His voice is a part of growing up in Lebanon."

    Ford arrived in Lebanon from Cyprus in 1995 and joined Radio One. He quickly earned a reputation for his humour on the show, Gavin Ford in the Morning, which he hosted along with Olga Habre.

    His colleagues at the radio station reached out to the police when Ford did not arrive for work and did not reply to calls. After hearing news of his death, the station released a statement: "We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our dear Gavin Ford, a member of our team for many joyful years."

    Chris Rampling, the British ambassador to Lebanon, said: "I am shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Gavin Ford, one of Lebanon's most popular morning breakfast hosts. The thoughts of all at the embassy are with his family, friends and colleagues at this terribly difficult time."

    'Genuine and sincere man'

    Derek Isaacs, a British writer based in Beirut, knew Ford for years. He remembers how Ford did a series of stories on a 4-day-old kitten rescued by Isaacs last year. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Isaacs remembered Ford as a "gentle, genuine and a sincere man".

    "He had such an important job and yet he was so down to earth," Isaacs said, adding that the killing was "a complete mystery" to him.

    Lebanon is largely seen as a safe shore on the Mediterranean for foreigners and locals alike. However, Ford's murder, and before him the killing of British diplomat Rebecca Dykes in December last year, raises questions over the safety of expats in the country.

    Lebanese police officials have begun questioning Ford's neighbours in Beit Mery, east of Beirut, to identify recent visitors to his home.

    For now, the Lebanese are puzzled. "Who could have killed a man who brought such happiness to our lives," asked his long-time fan, Abboud.

    Ford will be remembered, as one Twitter follower put it, as the man who helped them bear Beirut's chaotic traffic each morning.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News