In November 2011 a terrible mix up at the mortuary of my City was discovered. Christopher Alder died in police custody in 1998. His funeral was believed to have taken place years ago, that is until his remains were discovered still in the mortuary.
The family of Mrs Grace Kamara had wanted to view her body when they collected her from Hull Mortuary, which was when they made the shocking discovery. It was not Grace but actually the body of Christopher Alder. The one thing in common with this man and this woman was that they were both black.
When the news was released it of course raised many concerns. Had this happened before? How could such a mistake have been made? A police investigation is underway and in due course its findings will be made public.
Sadly Christopher was let down by many people before the mortuary mix up. The 37-year-old ex paratrooper, who was also a father of two, died in suspicious circumstances. An inquiry was launched and the sister of Chris fought long and hard for justice.
Chris choked to death in front of four police officers. Video footage shown on TV much later made for grim viewing.The Mail Online reported that, "By the time Chris arrived at the police station, he was unconscious and his trousers were around his knees. He was left handcuffed on the floor while the four officers looked on and did nothing. They could allegedly be heard on CCTV footage making monkey noises as he lay dying for 11 minutes. They later claimed they thought he was ‘putting on an act’."
No police officers were ever held to account. The family of Chris were let down time and time again. They believed that some years ago they had given Christopher a dignified funeral when in effect they had buried Grace Kamara. The family of Grace were also upset and angry. Initially no-one knew where the body of Grace was, although it was thought that it was in the grave believed to have been that of Christopher.
Hull Daily Mail has reported that the burial plot has caused more problems. The brother of Chris, Richard, "who scattered his daughter Laura's ashes over the grave, wanted his brother to remain in the current plot. However, Christopher's sister Janet is the plot holder and he wasn't sure what she should do. Richard said: "We were offered a new plot and decided to take it. We would have preferred for Christopher to remain in the original plot but Janet couldn't make a decision. Once the exhumation takes place they will take off the top turf which contains Laura's ashes and place it on the new plot."
What a mess. Obviously the case still has some way to go. The body, presumed to be Grace, is due to be exhumed on the night of February 21 / 22, 2012. Soon though both families will know that they have put their loved ones to rest, at last. Christopher was buried this week in a simple service at an undisclosed location.
Investigations and an inquiry will continue. RIP and condolences to all concerned.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog