Police have refused to confirm local sex offender Andrew Cunningham was murdered by vigilantes.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola said he was keeping an open mind on suspects and motives, adding that no rowdy groups were seen in the area on the night.

There had been no reports of sex offences in recent years, quashing a rumour the 52-year-old had fondled a local two-year-old.

He said: “It’s vital to my enquiry to establish where he was during the course of Tuesday evening and who he was with.

“Many people knew him, he visited several pubs in the area.”

He added: “There are many potential motives for a murder. One will be that he’s a sex offender, although that was many years ago.”

Mr Cunningham was forced to sign the sex offender’s register for unlawful sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2001 and his name was taken off earlier this year.

Police said he did not contact them with fears of danger, despite many people in the area knowing his history.

Several years ago one of his bins was set alight outside his house.

Mr Cunningham was last seen at 6.10pm on Tuesday outside his caravan in Riverside Road, Windmill Business Centre, on the border of Wandsworth and Wimbledon.

Police found him dead the next morning at 8am, with mutilated genitals as well as multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and chest.

Police are now studying CCTV and talking with businesses, family, friends to establish what happened that night.

No murder weapon has been recovered and his caravan has been taken away for forensic examinations.

D Ch Insp Scola said: “It was a vicious and brutal attack and whoever carried that attack out is still out there and could easily carry out that attack on somebody else.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Incident Room on 020 8721 4138 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.