Belfast Telegraph

Pathologist casts doubt over suicide of star boxer

By Claire McNeilly

A Northern Ireland pathologist has raised suspicions that a third party could have been involved in the death of an Olympic boxer.

Darren Sutherland (27), who won a bronze for Ireland at the Beijing games, was found dead in his apartment in 2009 after apparently hanging himself.

But Professor Jack Crane has questioned why Darren’s hands were tied when his body was found in his London home.

Mr Sutherland’s parents have said they believe the forensic pathologist will provide them with a detailed examination of what happened to their son.

He wrote in a letter: “The presence of a ligature, even if only loosely tied around the wrists, raises some concern about the possibility of a third party.”

Prof Crane, Northern Ireland’s state pathologist, who reviewed the initial post-mortem results, described it as “wholly inadequate”.

He said it included no description of the ligature found around Darren's neck, no description of how it was knotted, an “inadequate description” of the marks on his neck, and “a lack of detail in respect of the ligature around the wrists”.

He described the toxicology report as “meaningless” because it did not specify what drugs or alcohol were screened for. “The standard of the autopsy is, in my opinion, inadequate and below the standards required by the Royal College of Pathologists,” Prof Crane said.

The inquest into Darren’s death was opened and adjourned last September and a hearing is due to be held in November. Londonderry solicitor Des Doherty, who is advising the family, said: “In view of the contents of Professor Crane's report and his concerns about the possibility of the involvement of a third party in Darren's death, we were left with no option other than to advise our clients to consider exhumation.”

Yesterday, solicitors for Darren's parents, Anthony and Lynda, said: “The purpose of making the exhumation application was taken after very careful and in-depth consideration by the Sutherland family.”

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