UEA is embroiled in a murder investigation after a body was found near the Mustard Centre yesterday evening.
The body was identified as that of Dr Tom Bland, curator of the art gallery, which last night saw the opening of a controversial exhibition featuring articles associated with militant group ISIS.
The body of Dr Bland was found last night at approximately 8:45pm by a witness who claimed to have seen two people, supposedly Dr Bland accompanied by a friend, walking over the footbridge as if to access the Mustard Centre.
The witness then saw the body fall from the walkway and contacted the emergency services, who declared the male dead at the scene ahead of a forensic investigation.
The discovery of the body, behind Block E of Norfolk Terrace and the Mustard Centre, in the heart of campus, was confirmed by a UEA Do Something Different Week spokesperson who said: “We were informed that a body was reported outside the Mustard Centre shortly before 8.45pm on Sunday 26th February. A forensic investigation was carried out today.
“The body has been identified as Dr Tom Bland, curator of the Mustard Centre.
“No further information is available at this time. The university will be fully supporting the police with their enquiries.” Follow the investigation on twitter @Concrete_UEA.”
Witness reports suggest that alcohol might have been a factor in the tragic death of Dr Bland, with attendees reporting that he appeared intoxicated by the end of the opening. Photos of the event show Dr Bland stumbling, shortly before his death.
One eyewitness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, exclusively told UEA News: “I didn’t know the two people, but they walked across the walkway, stumbling about.
“It was late, and I can quite imagine that alcohol will have been involved, judging by their behaviour.
“I don’t know whether the man was pushed on purpose, fell accidentally, or jumped. He was accompanied by a young woman with long curly brown hair.”
There have been several protests over the exhibition, previewed by Charlie Nicholson in Concrete. Dr Bland, plus other members of staff at Mustard have been the subject of personal attacks on social media for their inclusion of several artefacts.
Concrete reported that complaints had been raised with the Students’ Union by a number of students over unverified reports circulating that some of the artefacts had been looted from ancient cities by the radical group.
The exhibition was sponsored by eminent Norwich Philanthropist and recent UEA Art History graduate Lady Malcone.
Lady Malcone could not be reached for comment as of 5 o’clock on Monday.
Visitors were left disappointed today as the gallery today closed on what was due to be the exhibition’s first day open to the public.
It is as yet unknown when, if ever, the exhibition will re-open.
The event left students on campus shaken, and Norfolk Police Constabulary have stepped up their presence on campus.
Det. Supt. Sheehan of the force reassured students and said: “Police patrols on campus have been stepped up as we investigate this tragic incident. We would like to ease the minds of UEA students and staff that we are doing everything we can to investigate the incident. If criminal activity is ascertained, we will find and bring the perpetrator to justice.”
He continued: “We have stepped up our visible presence on campus to reassure the public and are working hard behind the scenes with a dedicated unit working on investigating the discovery of this body.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Dr Bland and we are supporting them during this difficult time.”
UEA Archaeology student Sarah Jane Bishop, who had attended the opening night Tweeted: “I don’t think I’ll ever stop crying.”
It is not yet clear whether any arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
The Mustard Centre shot to national attention after being used as part of the set for The Retaliators film franchise, and saw an official visit by Megan Baynes, Queen of Concrete.