Paul Cooper never found himself short of friends in the area of north Manchester where he grew up. He was known for his devotion to his dog, Blue, an interest in cookery and an optimistic outlook, despite a motorcycle crash that meant he needed a walking stick to get about.

But a positive contribution to community life counts for little when a neighbourhood starts feeding on fears of crime and takes the law into its own hands.
A murder investigation was under way yesterday after a gang of men near Mr Cooper's home at Heywood wrongly convinced themselves he was a paedophile and beat him to death at his flat.

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