Appeal as police seize body at funeral

POLICE who pulled over a hearse on its way to a funeral so they could commandeer a dead man's body have issued an appeal for information.

Roddy Ashworth

POLICE who pulled over a hearse on its way to a funeral so they could commandeer a dead man's body have issued an appeal for information.

The coffin containing the body of Stuart Smith, 37, was taken to Colchester General Hospital for tests after suggestions that excessive force had been used when he was arrested by officers three days before he died.

An initial post mortem examination suggested that Mr Smith, a former heroin addict who lived in Larch Close, had died of a drug overdose.


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But detectives decided to investigate after they became aware of CCTV footage showing a possible case of police brutality when he was dealt with by officers in Colchester town centre on September 14.

Officers were contacted shortly before 11pm three days later following reports that Mr Smith had died inside a house on Normandy Avenue.

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Investigating Officer, DI Jim Caulfield, said: “We're aware that there were a number of people who were walking along Normandy Avenue around the time the emergency services were called.

“They are all potential witnesses and can help us and his family ascertain the events which led up to his death.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is currently supervising an investigation into Mr Smith's death.

Essex Police has suspended one officer and placed another on restricted duties while investigations continue.

The force has since agreed to cover the costs of the funeral ceremony which had to be cancelled on October 8 after their intervention.

Mr Smith had been due to be cremated.

Anyone with information in connection with this incident, or who was in Normandy Avenue at the time, is asked to contact detectives at Colchester Police Station on 0300 333 4444.

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