THE body of a former soldier from Burnley who died in police custody has been found in a mortuary more than 10 years after his family thought they had buried him.
Christopher Alder (37) was laid to rest in 2000, two years after he choked on his own blood on the floor of a Hull police cell.
His family, led by sister Janet Alder, launched a lengthy campaign for justice resulting in a seven-week inquest which ruled he had been unlawfully killed.
But this weekend Mr Alder’s family were given the devastating news his body was still in a mortuary and police now believe a woman, called Grace Kamara, may have been buried in his place.
The discovery was only made because Grace Kamara’s body was required for burial and undertakers went to collect the body.
Hull City Council chief executive Nicola Yates said: “On Friday, November 4th, I was made aware of a situation relating to the body of a man, who was in his late 30s, located in the city mortuary.
“The body lay in place of where Grace Kamara had been recorded as resting. At the moment I cannot explain this. While Grace Kamara died of natural causes in 1999, her burial was, for family-related reasons, only able to take place on Friday. It was immediately postponed.
“My first priority has been to make sure the families involved were informed and given the necessary support. Now we have made our best efforts to notify and support the families, I can confirm the body of the man has been identified as Christopher Alder.
“I am appalled and distraught at what I have learned and in conjunction with Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust we will be undertaking a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the events.”
Mr Alder, an ex-paratrooper who had served in the Falklands, was partially dragged, partially carried into the custody suite at Queen’s Garden Police Station in 1998 after he was arrested following a disturbance at a nightclub. His arms had been handcuffed behind his back and his trousers pulled down around his knees.
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 at Teesside Crown Court.
Four years later, an Independent Police Complaints Commission report said four of the officers present in the custody suite when Mr Alder died were guilty of the most serious neglect.
Former Burnley MP Peter Pike who raised the original case in Parliament said: “In my view there was never justice secured in this case. It’s an appalling situation and it re-opens it for Janet and the rest of Mr Alder’s family. It is totally unacceptable.”