Cemetery visitors and the community have reacted with disbelief after a man was murdered on "sacred ground".

The 54-year-old was found unconscious with a neck injury at the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium in Aldersbrook Road at 2.17pm on Wednesday.

He was taken to hospital by air ambulance but died later.

Yesterday police closed off the cemetery completely to the public.

Police believe they know the man's identity, but he is yet to be formally identified.

Only parties attending funerals were allowed to enter.

A 39-year-old woman, who asked not to be named, attended his uncle's funeral at the cemetery yesterday.

She said: “This is a disgrace, I just wanted to bury my uncle.

“We were forced to get off our coach and walk where we had to be to avoid all the blue and white tape that cordoned off the area”

“This is a decent cemetery with a decent name.

“To think that someone could murder in such a peaceful area, it’s disgusting.

“Practically my whole family are buried here."

Saleem Mohammed, 56, of The Drive in Ilford, works at a nearby taxi rank in Aldersbrook Road.

He said: “It is such a nice area with calm, lovely people. I am shaken.

“There were large groups of people standing outside the gates, who were escorted out but no- one knew what was going on.”

Police helicopters were spotted circling over the site on Wednesday at about 4pm.

Rishi Sudra, 50, who works at Wine Plus in Aldersbrook Road, said: “Customers have been gossiping about it.

“The people at the gate must know who goes in or out of the cemetery.”

On the other side of the park, Eddy Santos, 23, Forest View Road, Manor Park said: “I would never expect there to be a murder in the graveyard  - that is on another level.”

“People over there on the north side of the cemetery may be shocked that murders happen, but I am not.”

Daniel Freitas, 19, of Toronto Avenue, said: “I was shocked and scared.

“I would expect that on the street but a graveyard, for me that is sacred ground.”

Laureen Furnley, of Forest View Road, 83 said: “My whole family are buried in City of London cemetery.

"A lot has happened in my time but why are people killing each other in there?

"There is enough dead in there already.”

A post-mortem examination will be scheduled in due course.

Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 020 8345 3734, or to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111