A man found murdered in his home was a popular lawyer who had played a key role in improvements to the prosecution of sex offenders on Merseyside.
The body of Martin Decker was discovered after police were called to his Wirral property on Sunday evening.
A post mortem has confirmed he died as a result of a “severe blunt force head injury”.
Mr Decker had a decades-long career working for the Crown Prosecution Service.
The 69-year-old, described as “polite, friendly and unassuming” and a “true gentleman”, prosecuted criminal cases across Liverpool’s courts.
He was also a leading figure in the launch of a groundbreaking initiative designed to make the prosecution of rapists and other sex offenders more effective.
Mr Decker was involved in the Unity Team, which saw specialist rape investigators work side by side with expert lawyers, when it was set up in 2010.
The project had the twin aims of encouraging more victims of sexual violence to come forward and of increasing the number of successful prosecutions against offenders. The Unity team remains a key part of Merseyside Police’s work on sexual crime.
Mr Decker, who joined the CPS in 1985, was one of three lawyers from the organisation involved in the creation of that unit.
Said to have been a popular figure on the court network, he rose to become a higher court advocate who managed significant prosecutions for the CPS.
Paying tribute today, Siobhan Blake, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey Cheshire, said: “We have been greatly saddened by the news of the death of our former colleague Martin Decker.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult and tragic time.”
The ECHO understands Mr Decker’s death was initially believed to have been non-suspicious.
But the post mortem result indicated he had suffered a severe head injury, sparking the launch of a murder probe.
His home, in the luxury Vyner Croft development off Boundary Road in Prenton, was cordoned off by police on Tuesday.
Forensics officers examined the scene while police carried out door-to-door enquiries.
Detectives are working to piece together Mr Decker’s movements in the days and hours leading to his death.
Merseyside Police said “a number of lines of enquiry” were being investigated.
The next-of-kin of Mr Decker, who lived alone, had been informed.
Appealing for details, Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Wilson said: “This is obviously a very a tragic incident and our thoughts are with Mr Decker’s family and friends.
“The investigation is in the very early stages and we are currently working to establish Mr Decker’s movements on the Saturday and Sunday (March 6/7).
“Vyner Croft is only a small cul-de-sac and I am keen to establish if there was anyone seen in that road or any of the surrounding roads acting suspiciously prior to the discovery of Mr Decker’s body.
“I would ask anyone, including delivery or taxi drivers, who were driving in the area in the past few days to check their dash cam to see if they have captured anything significant.
“I would also ask anyone who may have mobile phone or CCTV footage to get in touch as they may be able to assist our investigation.
*Information and footage that could assist the investigation can be submitted here.
Anyone with information can also contact Merseyside Police via Twitter (@MerPolCC), by calling 101 or contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting 21000146885.