Police have appealed to the gay community for help as part of an investigation into the death of a man found washed up on a beach in Cornwall with a sock stuffed in his mouth.

The body of Alan Jeal, 64, was discovered on 25 February at Perranporth Beach in an area known as a cruising hotspot.

Detectives said they had no evidence Mr Jeal was gay, but they were appealing “particularly to the gay community”.

Police said a jacket found nearby containing his wallet was not the one he was wearing in CCTV footage on the day before he died.

Officers said they wanted to know where Mr Jeal was going on Monday 24 February when he was filmed on CCTV in Truro and Wadebridge, and who he met.

Detective Chief Inspector David Thorne, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “Part of the investigation is trying to find out why he made the trip from Wadebridge to Truro that day.

“We are putting out information particularly to the gay community simply to find out if anyone knew him, and might be able to suggest a reason for his journey.

“This is a very complex investigation and we have to start by dealing with the here and now. There are lots of theories, but so far very little evidence.”

DCI Thorne added: “Drowning might have been a contributory factor but at the moment the pathologist cannot be certain that it was the only factor.

“We certainly cannot rule out third-party involvement in Alan’s death.”