DETECTIVES in Thailand have launched a murder investigation after a man from the North-East was found dead.

Retired ICI worker Ivor Chandler, who is from the Skelton area of east Cleveland, died in the Phetchabun region of Thailand last Thursday.

It is believed Mr Chandler, who was in his 50s, was in the country on one of his regular trips to visit his girlfriend.

He is thought to have made several trips to the region during the past four years and last went out there in January.

The Northern Echo understands a man has been questioned in connection with his death, but few details about how or where he died have been released.

Last night, his shocked cousin, from Middlesbrough, who is also called Ivor Chandler, said he heard about the death at the weekend when Mr Chandler's sister called to say she was flying to Thailand to find out what had happened.

He said his cousin had lived alone for years.

"We became closer when his mother died a few years ago," he said. "He's a quiet sort of person, who retired due to ill health. He always seemed quiet enough and was not the type to go out looking for trouble."

He said his cousin had always loved travelling and, during one of his trips, had got to know a woman in Thailand.

"He was always going to see his uncle in America and going to Thailand," he added. "He used to upgrade to business class because he travelled so much.

"That's all I know. We don't even know what the motive was."

Mr Chandler is believed to have lived on his own in a bungalow close to Skelton town centre.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "He has always been a good neighbour. This is very shocking for everyone."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Phetchabun on March 6. We are providing consular support to the family and Thailand police are investigating the death."

Cleveland Police said they were not aware of the death, but had since contacted the Foreign Office to offer their services.

Teesside Coroner's Office said it had not been informed.