Beach body named after 11-year mystery

PUBLISHED: 10:03 19 October 2015

Mr Jones' body was found at Uphill.

Mr Jones' body was found at Uphill.

Archant

MORE than a decade after a man’s body washed up on Uphill beach, his identity has been discovered to help offer solace to his mystified family.

The body of an man in his 60s was found by a dog-walker on the sands on September 30, 2004. The cause of death was identified as drowning, and suspicious circumstances ruled out.

Although all conventional avenues were explored in an effort to learn the man’s identity, authorities remained baffled.

In 2005, Avon coroner Maria Voisin returned an open verdict into the man’s death, and his body buried in a numbered grave, as it appeared his roots would remain forever unknown.

However, Avon and Somerset Constabulary never gave up the quest to find out who the man was.

And now, thanks in large part to the doggedness and diligence of Detective Sergeant Clare Hargreaves, it appears the man’s identity has been discovered.

Fresh evidence – backed by ‘very strong scientific support’ – unearthed by DS Hargreaves has revealed the body was almost certainly that of 62-year-old Maurice Jones, from St Austell in Cornwall.

Judge Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting at London’s High Court, this week ordered a fresh inquest into the death, in a move supported by Mr Jones’ surviving brothers Ronald and Raymond.

The judge also paid tribute to the diligence of DS Hargreaves and her colleagues in never giving up their efforts to solve the mystery.

Judge Ouseley concluded: “We hope that this process will come as some comfort to Ronald and Raymond for the sad death of their brother some 10 years ago.”

DS Hargreaves told the Mercury the ‘eureka moment’ had come after she had been given a box of cold case files to review after relocating to Weston Police Station in 2013.

She said details had been matched against huge amounts of data from the Missing Persons Bureau, and evidence which had not previously been available began to suggest the body could be that of Mr Jones.

DC Hargreaves’ team then gathered photographic evidence and DNA profiles from Mr Jones’ brothers, which proved to be a perfect match.

DS Hargreaves said: “It must be awful for the family, not knowing. In the end, it was a huge relief for them to know he had died literally the next day (after disappearing), which was crazy.”

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