Dress­ing-down for Scilly Sergeant in mur­der rid­dle probe

Daily Mail - - Life - By Izzy Fer­ris

A PO­LICE sergeant who pub­lished mem­oirs about his quiet is­land beat has been heav­ily crit­i­cised over his han­dling of what is feared to be the first mur­der there in 40 years.

Sergeant Colin Tay­lor was con­demned for his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the death of Josh Clay­ton af­ter he sug­gested us­ing a water di­viner to hunt for his miss­ing body.

The Isles of Scilly of­fi­cer also showed ‘poor judg­ment’ in his de­ci­sion to speak to Mr Clay­ton’s fam­ily while they ate din­ner at a pub, an in­ter­nal in­quiry found.

Mr Clay­ton, 23, a bar man­ager from Taun­ton, Som­er­set, was found dead on rocks near the is­land of Tresco in 2015 – ten days af­ter he was seen at a staff party.

A ma­jor search took place be­fore his fully-clothed body was dis­cov­ered by a French yachts­man. His mother Tracey Clay­ton be­lieves he was mur­dered – which would make it the first on the is­lands since 1976 – and raised con­cerns over the han­dling of the case.

Many of her frus­tra­tions were di­rected at father-of-two Sgt Tay­lor, who pub­lished a book about policing the ‘crime-free’ is­lands – The Life of a Scilly Sergeant – in 2016, less than a year af­ter Mr Clay­ton’s body was found.

Now a Devon and Corn­wall Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion has up­held 15 of Mrs Clay­ton’s 22 com­plaints, which also in­cluded Sgt Tay­lor’s fail­ure to se­cure her son’s room – and there­fore po­ten­tial ev­i­dence.

The re­port iden­ti­fied six learn­ing points for Sgt Tay­lor – a lower level than mis­con­duct – six for De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Deb­bie Jago and four for Devon and Corn­wall Po­lice. Mrs Clay­ton said she felt vin­di­cated that some­one ‘ has ac­tu­ally lis­tened’ to her con­cerns.

The probe found Sgt Tay­lor dis­played ‘poor judg­ment’ in his con­ver­sa­tions with the fam­ily and some of what he said was ‘in­sen­si­tive through its ba­nal­ity’. He was also crit­i­cised for talk­ing about the in­quiry in a pub – de­scribed in the re­port as ‘just not ap­pro­pri­ate’.

He also ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ately’ in­tro­duced the idea of us­ing a water di­viner dur­ing the ini­tial search.

Sgt Tay­lor, 52, won a huge fol­low­ing for his wry so­cial me­dia posts on his beat and de­scribed his mem­oirs as ‘Heart­beat but less fre­netic’. Re­spond­ing to the re­port, the of­fi­cer, who re­turned to Devon in 2016 af­ter five years in the job, said: ‘At all times the wel­fare of the Clay­ton fam­ily was para­mount.’

Mr Clay­ton’s death had been treated as an ac­ci­dent be­fore the first in­quest was halted over is­sues in­clud­ing ‘un­der-re­sourc­ing’. A sec­ond in­quest con­cluded his death was ac­ci­den­tal and he ‘may have had a fall’ – which Mrs Clay­ton de­scribed as ‘pure spec­u­la­tion’.

The Clay­ton fam­ily are seek­ing £70,000 com­pen­sa­tion from po­lice for le­gal fees, and want to start a char­ity in their son’s name.

Tragedy: Bar man­ager Josh Clay­ton In­set and right: Colin Tay­lor and his book

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