Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Police fail to spot man had been murdered until undertakers find knife in his back

A coroner criticised bungling police after they failed to spot a man had been murdered — until undertakers discovered a knife sticking out of his back, an inquest has heard. Antoine Denis, 66, was found slumped on his back in the bedroom of his flat in Chatham, Kent, in January this year. Detectives at the scene pronounced father-of-four Antoine dead but found nothing that suggested a crime had been committed.

It was only when undertakers arrived to remove the body that they found blood and a 12cm (4.7in) knife stuck up to its hilt in Antoine’s back. One of the officers received a verbal warning following an internal police investigation into the handling of the as yet unsolved murder. Mid Kent and Medway coroner Roger Sykes criticised the police handling of the case and recorded a verdict of unlawful killing at an inquest into Antoine’s death held in Maidstone, Kent.

He said: ”My understanding is that in the process of the undertaker’s preparation it was discovered there was some blood and indeed a knife and at that stage investigating officers attended.” Mid Kent and Medway coroner Roger Sykes criticised police for failing to examine Antoine’s body ”thoroughly”. A pathologist report showed the knife penetrated at least 9cm of his lung and 3cm through skin and bone.

He said: ”It appeared the police officers who attended found him on the floor and thought it was not suspicious. But they clearly didn’t examine the body thoroughly. It was only when undertakers who began to move him noticed there was blood and then found the knife.” Coroner Sykes concluded the inquest by appealing for anyone with information on Antoine’s murder to contact Kent Police.

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