Police hunting missing man find a body

POLICE searching for a man who went missing in the early hours of New Year's Day said yesterday they had discovered a body.The corpse was found in water around 12ft deep in the River Chelmer by divers from the Metropolitan Police.

By Roddy Ashworth

POLICE searching for a man who went missing in the early hours of New Year's Day said yesterday they had discovered a body.

The corpse was found in water around 12ft deep in the River Chelmer by divers from the Metropolitan Police.

Although formal identification is yet to take place, police are in contact with the family of Nelson Nubila Fonkemun, 23, who disappeared after leaving a Chelmsford nightclub at around 2.30am on January 1.


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Mr Fonkemun, an IT graduate, has not been seen since and his route home would have taken him alongside the river.

Yesterday Superintendent Tim Stokes, of Essex Police, said the body had been discovered about 100 yards from the entrance to British Home Stores in Chelmsford, outside a canoe club.

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Although bushes line the river, the path cuts close to the bank and there is a small platform near to where the body was found.

The corpse was located tangled in weeds by divers shortly before 11am and roads, pathways and car parks nearby were sealed off while it was recovered.

An initial post mortem examination conducted yesterday revealed the man had died from drowning.

“We believe there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of this man.

“Although a formal identification will not take place until Monday afternoon, Nelson's family are being kept updated on the developments in this investigation,” Supt Stokes said.

He added that Mr Fonkemun, who was originally from Cameroon, could not swim.

Mr Fonkemun, who lived in rented accommodation in Baddow Road, Chelmsford, had been out drinking with friends at Dukes nightclub on New Year's Eve and CCTV footage showed him leaving the premises.

He sent a number of mobile phone text messages - one to his girlfriend - in the early hours of New Year's Day, but since then nothing had been heard of him.

His route home would have taken him along the High Street and then along the river to the Army and Navy roundabout where there is a junction with Baddow Road.

Regarded as a quiet and loveable man, Mr Fonkemun was said to be optimistic about the year ahead.

He had a job in a factory, although he planned to start another academic course later this month.

Most of his family still live in Cameroon, from where he moved four years ago, but he had one relative living in London.

A police spokesman said everybody officers had spoken to who knew Mr Fonkenum - better known in the UK as Nelson Nubila - had said what a kind, generous and friendly person he was. “He was a very popular man,” the spokesman added.

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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