The father of the murdered student Meredith Kercher has died after a suspected hit-and-run incident in south London, police have said.

Scotland Yard confirmed on Friday that John Kercher, 77, had died six days earlier, having been found suffering from a series of injuries on 13 January. Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident.

“We are currently treating the death of this man as unexplained and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time,” said DS Steve Andrews.

“Despite thorough inquiries made so far, including speaking to witnesses and examining potential CCTV opportunities, we’ve not as yet been able to establish how the man came to sustain his injuries, which included a broken arm and broken leg.

“We are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances of his death, including whether he may have been involved in a collision.”

Police asked anyone who was on Windmill Road, in Croydon, at about 7.30am on the day of the incident to contact them.

Kercher was a newspaper journalist for 40 years, and wrote for many publications including the Guardian. He also wrote children’s annuals and edited magazines.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter. He and Kercher’s mother, Arline, separated more than 20 years ago.

A Kercher family spokesman was quoted as saying: “We loved him dearly and he is going to be very sorely missed.”

Police said a special postmortem would be scheduled in due course.

Kercher’s daughter, Meredith, was murdered in 2007 in the Italian town of Perugia, where she was studying as part of the Erasmus programme. Her body was found in the home she shared with Amanda Knox, who was twice convicted and twice acquitted of her murder. She had been sexually assaulted, stabbed and her throat had been cut.

Along with her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, Knox spent four years in prison. An Ivorian man, Rudy Guede, was also convicted of Meredith Kercher’s murder and is serving a prison sentence.

Following their initial convictions, Knox and Sollecito were acquitted in 2011. They were then convicted again in 2014 by an appeals court in Florence, which ruled that the multiple injuries inflicted on Kercher’s body proved Guede could not have acted alone. But Italy’s highest court overturned the decision in 2015, because of what it described as “stunning flaws” in the investigation that led to the convictions.

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