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Body blunder family 'devastated'

The family of a former soldier whose body was involved in a mortuary mix-up say they are "devastated" no-one will face prosecution over burying the wrong body.

Christopher Alder was thought to have been buried in Hull's Northern Cemetery in 2000, two years after his death in police custody.

But his body was discovered in a hospital mortuary in November 2011, with Nigerian pensioner Grace Kamara buried in his place.

Police today confirmed there would be no realistic chance of a successful prosecution, much to the upset of Mr Alder's family.

The former paratrooper's sister, Janet Alder, said: "There are so many unanswered questions about Christopher's death, I wonder whether they will ever be answered.

"We were told this morning by police there will be no charges - we are devastated.

"This has been going on for years now - we are no closer to knowing who is responsible for his death or how this could happen."

South Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have said they will meet Mr Alder's family to explain what they believe might have happened to cause the wrong body to be buried.

But Miss Alder said: "Nobody has answered any of my questions before, I can't expect anyone to do so now.

"We are gutted. I don't want a 'theory' about what happened - I want answers."

Mr Alder, 37, choked to death while handcuffed and lying on the floor of a police station in Hull, in the early hours of April 1 1998. He had been hurt in a scuffle outside a nightclub and was arrested after becoming aggressive in hospital.

Police had been called in to investigate the apparent mortuary blunder, which was discovered only because family and friends of Mrs Kamara asked to see her body. Mr Alder's remains were found in its place in the mortuary.

Detective Superintendent Richard Fewkes, who led the investigation, said: "The investigation was detailed in the extreme and every available piece of evidence was presented to the Crown Prosecution Service, which has conducted a very thorough examination of the case.

"While the investigation will not lead to a criminal prosecution, I am now in a position to explain to the families of Christopher Alder and Grace Kamara the likely circumstances that may have led to these very tragic events.

"It is also important that the relevant agencies involved are made aware of the full circumstances so that lessons can be learned and events of this kind are prevented in future."

Mr Alder's sister took her case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, alleging that there had been a violation of the substantive aspects of Article 3, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and Article 14, which prohibits discrimination, of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The UK Government apologised to Mr Alder's family after admitting breaching the European Convention on Human Rights over his death.

A decade ago, an inquest jury returned a verdict that Mr Alder was unlawfully killed and in 2002 five Humberside Police officers went on trial accused of manslaughter and misconduct in public office but they were cleared of all charges on the orders of the judge.

Four years later, an Independent Police Complaints Commission report said four of the officers present in the custody suite when the former soldier died were guilty of the ''most serious neglect of duty''.

Humberside Police Chief Constable Tim Hollis apologised at that time ''for our failure to treat Christopher with sufficient compassion and to the desired standard that night'' but the Police Federation said the officers involved ''strongly disputed'' the report's conclusions.

Miss Alder said she wanted a full public inquiry into what happened to her brother.

A spokesman for human rights campaigners Liberty said: "This is a disappointing day for the family members who have already been through so much.

"The CPS must now give a full explanation of the reasoning behind such a serious decision.

"Our client has been waiting for answers for far too long."


From Belfast Telegraph