A 60-year-old man found dead on a beach in West Sussex, was involved in the occult and lived with former King of the Witches Alex Sanders, it emerged yesterday.

A murder inquiry is under way into the death of father-of-three Derek Taylor, whose body was found at Rustington, near Bognor Regis, on Monday.

According to those who knew him, Mr Taylor shared homes in Bexhill and Hastings, East Sussex, with Mr Sanders, who died in May 1988, aged 61.

He was devastated by Sanders' death, which sparked fierce debate among Britain's Witchcraft Council of Elders over who would inherit the title King of the Witches, a position he held for 25 years.

Mr Taylor was said to be a practising black-magic witch who was obsessed with life in outer space. He built a huge pyramid in the front room of his home in St John's Road, Hastings, which he believed would beam him up to a mystical planet named Ganymede.

He met Sanders, who was married twice, in 1972, and went on to live with him in Bell Hill, Bexhill, and finally in St John's Road, Hastings.

Police were called at 2.15am on Monday, after reports that a man had been seen running into the sea at Rustington. A 30-year-old man was arrested in connection with the murder, but later released on bail without charge.