POLICE probing the death of a Mirfield man are looking into claims of ill-feeling in the area where he was hurt.
Tensions between horse and bike riders and local residents have been stirred up in the quiet village where cyclist David Burns was hurt after hitting a tree laid across a woodland track.
Mr Burns, 38, died on March 4, more than two weeks after he hit the tree blocking a bridleway in woodland off Stocksmoor Road in picturesque Midgley, near Flockton.
The market trader came off his mountain bike after hitting the tree in Coxley Woods at 11.30am on Sunday, February 13, while riding with a friend.
Mr Burns took 15 minutes to recover from the fall, then continued on his ride.
The next day he went to Dewsbury District Hospital and was told he had damaged a joint in his shoulder.
He was allowed home, but collapsed on February 22.
He was taken to the Dewsbury hospital but transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for specialist care after a serious head injury was diagnosed.
Tragically he later died.
Yesterday, police mounted a big operation in the wooded valley where the incident happened.
Officers quizzed people using the woodland paths.
They also put up posters appealing for any information about Mr Burns.
A user of the hidden bridleway said she was "gobsmacked" at Mr Burns' death.
The woman, who asked not to be named, added: "There have been things laid across before and I don't tend to use this track as much.
"There have been tensions between horse riders, cyclists and villagers before. They have been stirred up by people."
Last month, about 150 people attended a meeting in the village hall at Netherton, near Wakefield, to voice their concerns over use of the bridleway.
Police confirmed there was tension between groups.
Det Supt Paul Taylor said: "We are not saying local residents have killed this man, but we are aware of the tensions."
He added that people had told them about previous troubles, which may be connected to the incident.
He said: "I want to know the circumstances of David's death.
"It's as simple as that.
"It's not up to me to speculate how these branches got across there.
"If someone knows something but is frightened to speak to the police, go and speak to their solicitor explain what happened and then come to us, said Det Supt Taylor.
"There may be a completely innocent explanation.
"But if there isn't it's up to the person who put the branches there to tell us why they did it."
Anyone with information should phone police on 01924 293259 or Crime- stoppers on 0800 555 111.