A heartbroken mother has told how she went to the police station expecting to collect her dead son’s possessions – only to be given a bin-bag full of household trash.
Diane Down hoped to be handed clothes worn by 18-year-old Sam when he died. Instead, she found the contents of somebody else’s rubbish bin.
“There is nothing here even remotely connected to my son for me to treasure,” she sobbed to the Citizen. “Why would the police give me somebody else’s rubbish?”
This week city police chief Barry Halliday apologised sincerely for the distress caused by the contents, which had been bagged as potential evidence at the scene of Sam’s death. He has vowed to locate any missing personal items,
Police had warned Diane they were unsure what was in the bin-bag and say they had previously handed back trousers, underwear and a T-shirt belonging to Sam. But his mum insists these were not her son’s clothes.
Diane, 49, had spent years plucking up the courage to collect Sam’s possessions after he died unexpectedly at a friend’s house in October 2007.
The friend and his family saw his body on the bedroom floor but bizarrely waited four hours before calling an ambulance, spending the time cleaning the house, bagging up rubbish and even eating lunch.
Last week’s Citizen reported how Diane conducted her own six year scrutiny into the tragedy. She did not accept the official verdict of accidental death due to a combination of alcohol and drugs, and battled in vain for a second inquest to be held.
She said: “It took until now for me to feel strong enough to collect Sam’s possessions from police storage.”
Diane, who works in fraud operations, went to Milton Keynes Police station on Friday to be handed the clothing she says did not belong to Sam. She lodged a complaint and returned on Monday morning.
“I was given a bag and the police admitted they didn’t know what was in it. As soon as I put it in the car I realised it felt like rubbish – I could hear the beer cans rattling,” she said.
She asked the Citizen to film the opening of the sealed and numbered bag at her Stantonbury home. You can see the video on our website www.miltonkeynes.co.uk.
Now Diane is demanding to know what police have done with Sam’s clothes.
“I know he was wearing a blue hoodie, jeans and a Ted Baker T shirt because I washed them all ready for him to go out that night. I want them back. I want to hold them and smell them. They are all I have left of my son.”
Police sorry for blunder
City police commander, Detective Superintendent Barry Halliday, said: “When such a tragedy occurs the police rightly recover lots of exhibits at the ‘scene’. It is not uncommon for police to seize items of discarded items in waste bins.”
Mr Halliday said staff attempted to examine the bag in Mrs Down’s presence but she declined because she wanted to open it at home.
He insisted: “Mrs Down has had some items of clothing belonging to Sam returned and it is regrettable and most unfortunate Mrs Down was given exhibits on her second visit which caused her distress upon examination.
“I express my sincere apologies for this situation.
“My staff fully understand how difficult this must be for families and all efforts were made to examine the contents fully before release but on this occasion for understandable reasons ,this was not possible.
“Having reviewed this case carefully the Police still have an item of clothing belonging to Sam and I will ensure this is delivered to Mrs Down as soon as possible.”