POLICE SORRY FOR BODY ID ERROR
Family wrongly told dead man found in river was missing relative
Police have apologised to the family of a missing man after wrongly identifying a body found near a pub.
Officers told the family of 83-year-old Ramsey man Reginald Howse, who went missing in May, that his body had been found in a river.
But hours later police said they had made a mistake – and Mr Howse was still missing.
POLICE have apologised to a family after wrongly naming a dead man as their missing relative.
Specialist divers pulled the body of a man out of a water-filled dyke near Ramsey Road, in Whittlesey, at 2.37pm on Saturday, after it was spotted by a passer-by.
Police believed it was the body of Reginald Howse (83), of Ramsey, who has been missing since May 9.
An inspector and another officer visited Mr Howse’s relatives on Sunday morning and told them of the discovery.
However, at 11.20pm on Sunday, police received reports that a 73year-old from Whittlesey had been missing since Saturday.
Further inquiries by police yesterday revealed the body was that of the 73-year-old and not Mr Howse, a father of three and grandfather of three.
Officers visited Mr Howse’s relatives to apologise for their error.
Mr Howse’s daughter Jenny Lee (55), of Brookfield Way, in Bury, near Ramsey, said the family were reconciled to the possibility that Mr Howse may be dead. She said: “Dad has been missing now for seven weeks and we are expecting this outcome.”
Mrs Lee added that they were thinking of the other man’s family. She said: “It’s a distressing time for us, but there is another family who have had a big shock.”
Formal identification of the body recovered from the river took place yesterday, confirming it was the 73-year-old man from Whittlesey.
His identity has not been released and the matter has been passed to the coroner.
A police spokesperson said the mistake was made after officers at the scene assumed the body was Mr Howse, as it matched his description.
At the time the body was found, officers had not yet received reports that the other man was missing.
The spokesperson said: “Reginald was last seen in Whittlesey in May. The body of an elderly man was discovered in Whittlesey on Saturday afternoon and matched the description of missing Reginald.
“At that time no other people matching this description had been reported missing. Reginald’s family were made aware of the discovery.
“The second man was reported missing after the body was found.”
“As soon as this information came to light, officers visited Mr Howse’s family to explain the situation and apologise for any distress that has been caused to them.
The spokesperson said Cambridgeshire police had launched an inquiry, adding: “We’ve apologised to the family for the assumption and the mistake which has been made. We will be looking at how the incident was handled to identify potential learning points for the future.”
Anyone with any information on Reginald should call police on 0345 456 456 4.
MISSING: Reginald Howse (83) remains missing today.