DETECTIVES investigating the murder of a pensioner are appealing for information after it emerged that someone attempted to use his bank card just hours before he died.

Police were called by the fire service, shortly before 4am on Saturday, to a fatal fire at a bungalow, in Pleckgate Road, in Blackburn.

While formal identification has yet to be carried out, the man who died is understood to be 88-year-old Christopher Proctor, police said.

Mr Proctor, a former lecturer lived alone at the bungalow, which was destroyed by the fire.

Officers are still working to ascertain how the fire started, and are now appealing to the community for help.

Detective Superintendent Paul Withers, who is leading the investigation, said: “We believe that Christopher Proctor may have been targeted over several years by people taking advantage of his vulnerability.

“In the early hours of the morning, shortly before the fire, we know that someone tried to use his Nat West bank card at two cash points, first at the Tesco Express store, in Whalley New Road, shortly before 2.15am, and then a short time later at the Post Office, at Brownhill roundabout, at 2.25am.

“We have recovered hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and we are currently reviewing this and interviewing many witnesses.

“However, I would appeal for anyone who has any CCTV covering the areas between the scene of Pleckgate Road and Whalley New Road, at Roe Lee, to get in touch with us as a matter of urgency.

“I am sure that someone in the community knows what has happened, and I would appeal for anyone who has any information to come forward and contact us.”

A post-mortem examination has been carried out, but the cause of death is currently unknown. An inquest has been opened, and adjourned.

Mr Proctor’s Nat West bank card is still missing, and police are appealing for anyone who finds this, or anything with Mr Proctor’s details on, to hand them to police.

A 39-year-old man from Blackburn was arrested on suspicion of theft and is curr-ently being questioned.

A 30-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

A fourth person, a 33-year-old man, has been released without charge.

Four others, including a 29-year-old woman, a 36-year-old man, a 48-year-old woman, and a 37-year-old man, all from Blackburn have been released without charge.

Anyone with information should call police on 101.