Police investigating a fire in New Barnet at which a body was found say the victim was stabbed to death two to three days before his flat was torched.

A murder investigation has been launched following the death of Antonio James Tommaso, 49, at his home in Sheridan Lodge, Potters Road, New Barnet.

Initially the death was thought not to be suspicious, but a post mortem examination at Finchley mortuary on Friday, gave the cause of Mr Tommaso's death as multiple stab wounds.

The post mortem examination also revealed he had been dead for two to three days before the flat was set alight.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 7pm last Thursday where they found Mr Tommaso’s body in the front room of his flat.

Police also later recovered a red petrol can. 

The Homicide and Major Crime Command are investigating the death and opened an incident room at Barking under Detective Chief Inspector Glen Lloyd.

DCI Lloyd said:  “We believe following Mr Tommaso's murder, the suspect or suspects came back to the flat two to three days later and set fire to the property.

"We would like to hear from everyone who knew Mr Tommaso to build an understanding of who he was. Who did he socialise with? Who would he be seen with?

"Mr Tommaso would have been known locally, frequenting the New Barnet area, especially around Potters Road often riding his bike.

"We would also be keen to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious at Sheridan Lodge in the days before the fire, especially anyone who would have seen someone carrying a red petrol can, like the one the pictures we have released today.

"Maybe someone saw its owner filling it up at a local petrol station? Or walking to, or from, one? If you did, please call us."

Police have also released an image of Mr Tommaso and the bike he used to ride frequently.