Belfast Telegraph

A week after this talented student and polo player's body was found, police still don't know how he died

By Adrian Rutherford

Smiling and enjoying life, this is the Northern Ireland student whose death is baffling police a week after his body was found in unexplained circumstances.

Mystery still surrounds what happened to James Steen, a university polo player, who was found dead last Saturday morning.

Originally from Poyntzpass in Co Armagh, the 23-year-old was studying at Newcastle University in England.

It is believed he had been visiting friends in Rugby, Warwickshire, and had been on a night out hours before he died.

The red-brick terraced home where his body was found is reported to be owned by a doctor.

Police initially arrested three men on suspicion of murder but all three were later released on bail.

However, the cause of death is still unknown, with police describing it as "unexplained".

It is understood police no longer believe it was violent.

The mystery deepened on Thursday when it emerged the results of a post-mortem were inconclusive.

Meanwhile, heartbroken family members are waiting for definitive answers as to how James died.

His family has appealed for privacy while they grieve. In a statement issued earlier this week, his parents said: "James enriched our lives, and the lives of others, in so many ways. He was a kind, caring, intelligent and very talented young man, with a generous spirit. He touched everyone he met with his positivity and his sense of humour.

"We are devastated by James's untimely death, but are comforted by knowing how much he was loved and admired by his family, friends and university colleagues.

"We are immensely proud of our son, and all he achieved and the significant mark he made during his brief time on this Earth."

James's half brother is Ivan Steen, minister at Windsor Presbyterian Church in South Belfast.

According to his Facebook site, Mr Steen was studying media, communication and cultural studies at Newcastle University.

A keen skier, he was president of the university's polo club.

A tribute posted on a club web page says: "James was a stalwart of the polo club from his earliest days at both Northumbria and Newcastle, where he latterly became secretary, then president. In developing his game to become a useful and dependable team member, James became a role model to others. He was an outgoing and enthusiastic member of the team in all senses; supporting both the club and its players to his utmost.

"As president, he put his whole being into the running of the club, and I hope that in coming years we can continue to follow in his footsteps and make him proud."

People who knew James have described him as "a fantastic friend" and "a complete gentleman".

James's Facebook site has numerous photographs of him playing polo, skiing and socialising with his friends.

One of the last images, posted on July 1, shows him smiling as he relaxes on a boat.

Four days after the picture appeared James was dead, leaving behind a family mourning their loss and searching for answers.

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