THE sudden death of a man in his 50s at a Trowbridge flat is being treated as a medical episode and is not suspicious, police have confirmed, after the discovery of the tragedy led to fears of a potential danger to other residents due to a smell of gas.

Officers were called out to a flat at Orchard Court just after 12.15pm on Tuesday after a visitor to the tenant of the ground floor flat could not get an answer, and then spotted the man had apparently taken seriously ill.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “Following the sudden death of a man in his 50s at a property in Orchard Court we can now confirm that this is being treated as a medical episode and is not believed to be suspicious.

“His next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with them at this sad time. A file will now be prepared for HM Coroner.

“Due to concerns about the smell of gas at the property, the building was evacuated and a gas engineer was deployed to carry out safety checks.”

Neighbour Mick Spillane, 70, who lived above the flat where the grim discovery was made, said the man had not lived in the flat for long and had recently been in hospital for two days.

“I came home on Tuesday morning and there was someone outside walking up and down and talking on a phone.

“The next thing was an ambulance arrived and a police community support officer and by 12.30pm the police were asking us to evacuate the flats.”

The ground floor flat where the man lived was let through Smart Properties in Trowbridge, who this week paid tribute to the tenant, who they declined to name.

“He was a lovely man, it is so sad,” said Sandra Hayward, from the firm. “I have spoken to his brother and given him our condolences.”

The drama unfolded on Tuesday after someone known to the firm called on the man for a planned visit and got no answer. “They looked through the window and saw the gentleman in the property,” she said. “They then called police to report that he was at the very least unwell and they could not see if he was breathing.”

Police arrived and had to force their way into the flat, at which point it is thought the smell of gas was detected.

“There was no gas leak and no smell of gas when the person who called police arrived,” Sandra said.

“We have been told a gas ring was found on, which is probably what caused the smell, but there was no danger. The flat has a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and working and that had not gone off.

“The tenant was getting a lot of support from various agencies,” she explained. “It is such a sad thing to have happened, especially at this time of year.”

Josh Williams-Trim, Wales & West Utilities gas emergency service manager for Trowbridge, said: “We were alerted to reports of a smell of gas at a block of flats in the Orchard Road area of Trowbridge and immediately sent an engineer to the scene.Our engineers have made the area safe.”

Police cordoned off the access to the flats on the Longfield estate and escorted residents to safety after they and an ambulance arrived.

Forensic scenes of crime officers investigated, after which the flat was boarded up.

Residents living at the flats were escorted by officers through the cordon, which extended not just to the access road but also to the entrance to flats 23-28.

Nearby resident Daniel Maz, 31, said the emergency services had arrived after 12.15pm, adding: “One of the guys said there was a smell of gas coming from the building.”

Police were also seen at the back of the flats and some officers were knocking on the doors of the neighbouring block.

Shortly after 3.30pm, a Wales and West Utility vehicle arrived to make the flat safe.

Police later arranged for the front door to the flat to be boarded up.