The murder of a British honorary consul in Jamaica was unlikely to be a homophobic attack, local police have said.

John Terry, 65, was found at his home last Thursday with severe head injuries and a cord and piece of clothing around his neck. He is thought to have been beaten around the head and upper body with a lamp. Post-mortem examination results showed he died of strangulation.

A note was reportedly found on the bed called him a “batty man” – a homophobic term of abuse. It added: “This is what will happen to ALL gays” and was signed “Gay-Man”.

However, police believe the murder may have been the result of an argument between Terry and someone he knew.

There were no signs of a break-in at the property and neighbours said they had seen him with a young black man in the days leading up to his murder.

Head of serious and organised crime, assistant commissioner Les Green, said evidence made the killing unlikely to be a hate crime.

“I don’t think it is a homophobic attack, although it’s been run in the UK press. It isn’t consistent with the information that we have. It is unlikely,” he told the Sunday Observer.

Green also played down reports of high homophobic murder rates, saying although attacks happen, few end in death.

He said: “There have been attacks mainly in the Corporate Area but they have never ended in murder. There are openly gay people in Jamaica and they live quite openly and mingle freely.”

A spokeswoman at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office told PinkNews.co.uk she had been “surprised” to see reports claiming the murder was motivated by homophobia, saying the FCO had not received any information pointing to this.

Gay sex between two men can carry a ten-year jail sentence or hard labour in Jamaica. Sex between two women is currently legal but many lesbians face persecution.

Terry’s body was discovered on Wednesday afternoon after a neighbour raised concerns that a light had been left on all night. There was no sign of forced entry to the property.

He was the British honorary consul to the Montenegro Bay area and had worked for the past 12 years helping tourists who had gotten into difficulties.

He is thought to have separated from his wife three years ago. She and his two children live in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.