The 79 unanswered questions relating to Michael Walsh’s death

Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh

THE family of Michael Walsh, whose body was exhumed from a Fenny Stratford cemetery earlier this year, are calling for answers to 79 questions concerning his death.

Mr Walsh’s nephew, Derval Walsh, asked for a ‘comprehensive investigation’ into the circumstances behind his uncle’s death.

Michael Walsh, known to family members as Mikeen, went missing in December 1985 after being released from Milton Keynes Police Station on Christmas Day,

His body was found a year later in the River Great Ouse in Olney, but remained unidentified until earlier this year when it was exhumed from an unmarked grave in Fenny Stratford.

Improvements in DNA testing meant the body could be identified as that of Mikeen.

But missing custody documents relating to his arrest and re-arrest in 1985 mean many questions about the case remain answered.

His final movements and the cause of his death remain a mystery,

Coroner Tom Osborne recorded an open verdict at an inquest on Tuesday, while investigating office Detective Sergeant Craig Curby pledged to continue to look into the case.

But family members are still seeking answers to 79 questions relating to Mikeen’s last known whereabouts – Milton Keynes Police Station.

The questions were submitted prior to Tuesday’s inquest, but due to the missing custody records remain largely unanswered.

The only recorded evidence from the time comes from two police reports submitted by Detective Inspector Phil Burrows in May 1987 and March 1988.

These were written 17 months and 27 months respectively after the last recorded sighting of Mikeen.

A police spokesman said: “Thames Valley Police is pleased the hard work and dedication of its Major Crime Review Team has been able to give some closure to the Walsh family after its efforts led to the successful identification of Michael’s remains.

“Efforts have been made to address a number of questions that have been posed by the Walsh family, and we will continue to assist where possible in answering these.”

The Burrows’ memo s can be seen in full by following the links below:

Report of May 12, 1987 page one

Report of May 12, 1987 page two

Report of March 1, 1988 page one

Report of March 1, 1988 page two

Report of March 1, 1988 page three

The 79 ‘Walsh’ questions:

1. Was DI Burrows involved in Mike’s arrest? If not, why did he prepare the Burrows Memo, and by reference to what material was that memo prepared?

2. Irrespective of whether he was involved on the arrest night, why was the Burrows Memo prepared 15 months after the human remains were found in the River Ouse and over two years after (i) Mike was arrested, and (ii) a missing person’s report was filed?

3. Why is the Burrows Memo not contemporaneous with the actual events?

4. What prompted the preparation of the Burrows Memo in March 1988? Why was it prepared as a memo to the Chief Superintendent?

5. Were any contemporaneous statements prepared and put on file? If so, these should be provided. If such statements were prepared but are now unavailable for production what happened to them? If such statements were not prepared, why were they not prepared?

Before custody:

6. At what time did Mike leave the house in Crummock Place?

7. At what time did Pauline call police?

8. Was this call recorded/logged at the police station? Where is the record of this?

9. How long did it take the police to get to Pauline’s place, take a report and then find Mike?

10. Did the police visit Pauline first and find afterwards or did police pick up Mike on their way to Pauline’s house?

11. Why was Mike ‘arrested’ on breach of the police grounds for walking around with his son and his son’s brother? What was he doing that would constitute breach of the peace?

12. Why was Mike not considered a danger to the children if he was not in control of his mental faculties?

13. At paragraph 5 of the Burrows Memo it is recorded that Mike had been arrested for a breach of the peace. At paragraph 6 of the memo, it is stated that ‘as can be seen on the Custody Record Sheet’ Mike was detained under the Mental Health Act and also to prevent a breach of the peace. Interestingly, paragraph 6 refers to the need to prevent a breach of the peace, not a ‘further’ breach of the police. Does anything turn on this?

14. How long did it take the police to bring the kids home and then transport Mike to Milton Keynes police station? Did this happen as one journey? In other words, did one car ferry the children and Mike, dropping the children home and then taking Mike onto the station or were two cars involved, with one dropping off the children and the other taking Mike straight to the station?

15. If there was one car involved, did Pauline see Mike when the police dropped off the children? If so how did he appear? Was he agitated? Was he in any heightened state? What was his general demeanour? Was there anything to suggest that he had been involved in a brawl or altercation with the police?

16. How far from Milton Keynes Police Station was the house in Crummock Place?

Custody and release:

17. How many police officers were present and how many were directly involved regarding both arrests? Who were those officers?

18. How long did it take to process Mike?

19. How disorientated was Mike and for how long?

20. How does the claim that Mike was disorientated, ie.. ‘unable to sign whether he wanted a solicitor, as he did not appear to understand... (did not) sign for his property, as he was... unable to understand what the officers were talking about... kept staring into the air and around himself... took a great deal of effort to answer any questions’ (paragraph 6 of the Burrows Memo) sit with him having been arrested for breach of the peace which tends to suggest boisterous, loud, unruly behaviour and not sedate, remote, disengagement?

21. Whose decision was it to call a doctor?

22. How long did they have to wait for a ‘local’ doctor?

23. Who was the doctor?

24. Is there a doctor’s report or bill to substantiate the call out? If the doctor administered a drug would he not have kept a record of this?

25. Was the doctor qualified to determine Mike was not ‘certifiable’?

26. How does the doctor’s assessment that Mike was not certifiable sit with his arrest under the Mental Health Act and a concern that he would breach the peace?

27. If the doctor formed the view that Mike was not ‘certifiable’ is that because Mike engaged with the doctor in some way? If so, what did Mike say?

28. How long after the assessment of the said doctor was it before Michael was given a sleeping pill?

29. Who administered the pill?

30. How late was it at this stage?

31. For how long is Mike supposed to have slept?

32. Did Mike wake naturally or was he awoken by the police? At what time did this happen?

33. Was Mike given anything to eat or drink?

34. How long did it take to process Mike’s release?

35. If Mike was released at 6.38am how much sleep could he possibly have had?

36. Was any video taken?

37. Did Mike get any chance to make a telephone call and if so whom did he call?

38. What property did Mike sign ‘Devil Devil’ for and what happened to it?

39. Can it be positively ascertained that it was Mike who signed ‘Devil Devil’?

Damage to cell:

40. Was Mike the only person detained in his cell, or were there others? Either way, was his cell visible to other cells?

41. Were there any other people being held in custody that night? If so, who were they?

42. Apparently, the doctor advised that Mike be ‘kept under observation until morning in police custody for a night’s rest’. If Mike was being observed, how could he have done any damage to his cell?

43. If, as suggested, Mike was ‘given a sleeping tablet and he slept for the night’ when did he do the damage to the cell? Before he went to sleep, or after he woke? In either case, why was the damage to Mike’s cell not noticed when he was removed from it?

44. How soon after Mike’s release was the damage to his cell noticed?

45. Who noticed the damage?

46. Was there a change of shift at the station? In other words, was the ‘damage’ spotted by someone who started work after Mike is said to have left the station?

47. What possible damage could Mike have done to the cell?


48. How was Mike found so ‘soon’ after his release?

49. Who were the officers involved? Were they the same officers as were involved in the earlier arrest or were they different? Were any officers involved in both arrests?

50. Where was Mike found?

51. At what time was Mike rearrested? Where is the arrest report? Who arrested him? Where are the documents?

52. What proof, if any, is there that Mike was actually rearrested ‘soon’ after he was released?

53. Was Mike taken back to the station? If the reason for the re-arrest was damage to the cell would the police not have wanted to show the damage to Mike and ask him to comment?

54. At what time was Mike released from custody for the second time?

55. Why was Mike rearrested at all if the police thought he was not in control of himself mentally? Was he rearrested because they accepted the doctor’s assessment that he was not certifiable?

56. If, notwithstanding the views of the doctor, the police felt that there were signs that Mike was mentally disturbed why was he not brought home or to a proper psychiatric unit for evaluation upon release (twice)?

57. At any stage during custody did Mike get any chance to make a telephone call and if so whom did he call?

58. Was any video taken?

59. Did Mike get any chance to make a telephone call and if so whom did he call?

60. What happened to Mike’s ID? (The police had his DHSS number)

61. When did Mike collect his last payment from DHSS?

62. Did Mike have any money on him?

63. Was Pauline notified of either release? If not, why not?

64. Did Mike have a prior criminal record and if so might it have influenced the way he was treated?

65. Was Mike known to the officers who arrested him on Christmas Day?

66. Who discarded Mike’s possessions stored at his lodgings?

Non-appearence at court:

67. Why was Mike not searched for after non-appearence in court? After all Mike had given his address.

68. If Mike was charged to appear in court on January 9, 1986, and failed to do so, the obvious thing for the police to do would be to look for him and arrest him again. Although there is a reference to a warrant having been issued for his arrest, the police knew where he lived, so did they go to that property to try to apprehend him? If not, why not?

Missing persons:

69. Was he declared ‘wanted’ before January 21, 1986 when he was reported missing?

70. If Mike was declared ‘wanted’ after he missed court on January 9, 1986, but before the filing of the missing person’s report on January 21, 2986, why was his status not changed when the missing person’s report was filed?

71. How long do missing persons normally remain in the system?

72. Paragraph 4 of the Burrows Memo states that Mike did not appear as a missing person because ‘after 12 months’ he was ‘circulated as wanted’ for damage to police property and was shown on the Police National Computer as wanted rather than missing.

73. Paragraph 8 of the Burrows Memo provides that ‘Walsh was circulated as ‘wanted’ ande according to instructions on the Police National Computer was no longer regarded as missing and therefore did not show up on our enquiries regarding missing persons’.

74. Importantly, what were the ‘instructions’ on the Police National Computer that recorded Mike was no longer regarded as missing? On what possible basis could this entry have been made? Who made this entry and why?

75. What happened to the missing person’s report? What was the practice in 1986? Why does it appear that the missing person’s report was not reflected in the Police National Computer? Was the report ever uploaded onto the Police National Computer? If so, why was it deleted from that electronic record?

76. It appears that Mike was never reinstated on the missing person’s list. Given the numerous enquiries made by the family, why is that the case?


77. What is the distance between the police station and Goosey Bridge?

78. What is the distance between the police station and the River Ouse? In other words, what distance would Mike have needed to travel from the police station before he could have accessed the river?

79. Why would a very good swimmer choose to jump into the river as a way of committing suicide?