CONNECTIONS with the drugs underworld are being probed after a Blackpool garage owner was shot dead last Friday (Nov 12).

Police appealed for witnesses, friends and business contacts to come forward after Alan Rosser, 34, was found dying by a horrified worker on the floor of his car repair workshop behind the Imperial Hotel in Back Eaves Street at about 6.30pm.

He had been shot through the head at close range by a single bullet from a handgun.

Police said Mr Rosser had been heard arguing with a man before a shot rang out.

Mr Rosser had only a minor conviction for cannabis possession, but detectives believe he may have become involved in low-level drug-trafficking.

A 75-strong murder squad has been working round the clock, with forensic scientists and scenes-of-crime officers conducting a finger-tip search of the garage and extensive house-to-house inquiries around the workshop, Imperial Engineering, off Dickson Road.

Det Supt Graham Gooch, leading the investigation, said: "There is quite a likelihood that the murder is connected with drug dealing. We are conducting very wide inquiries across Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

"We're not ruling out anything else but that is certainly our main line of inquiry. We have reason to believe he may have had connections with drug-trafficking, perhaps at a fairly low level." In March this year Mr Rosser was the subject of an attempted kidnap and two men accused of the offence were recently released on bail by the Crown Court, pending their trial.

"We have spoken to them," said Det Supt Gooch, "and we are satisfied they were not involved in the shooting."

The police wanted to hear from anyone in the vicinity on Friday evening and anyone who may have seen someone loitering in the area during the afternoon.

"It's possible the murderer was hanging around waiting for an opportunity to find Mr Rosser alone," said Det Supt Gooch.

He also appealed to people who knew Mr Rosser to come forward and help give a bigger picture of his life.

He was single, living with friends in Blackpool but police have not revealed his home address.

Anyone who can help should call police on 293933, the Incident Room on 607311 or the confidential Crimestoppers hotline on (0800) 555111.

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