Family slam police over Dover mortuary body blunder

Contributed by editor on May 12, 2006 - 08:48 PM


The family of a man whose body was left laying in the mortuary of the Buckland Hospital, Dover for two years while police failed to check his identity have blasted the force's bungles that included assuming their son was an asylum seeker.

Sean Hutchinson, 20, disappeared from Fitzwilliam near Pontefract in June 2003 and his body was found 17 days later off the Dover coast.

Now an internal investigation by Kent police's professional standards department has backed the family's complaints that Det Insp Ian Nundy and coroner's officer Dave Lewis had been "neglectful of duty".

Sean's father John Hutchinson, 46, complained that police did not attempt to identify him. He said that Det Insp Nundy made a decision at the time they fished Sean out of the water that he was probably an asylum seeker.

Det Insp Nundy told the police investigation that at the time Sean's body was discovered "all manner of attempts were being made to reach the UK by those seeking asylum, including jumping from ferries/boats shortly before the coast".

He decided that Sean's death was not suspicious and ordered DNA samples to be taken. But the samples were never sent off for analysis by a police employee. When a second DNA sample was taken two years later, Sean's body was identified within three months.

In March, a Kent coroner recorded an open verdict on Sean's death after admitting he had 'no idea' how Sean had died.

Sean's case was investigated by Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, who discovered at least 10 more bodies lying unidentified in UK mortuaries.