Veteran of the Falkland's War, Christopher Alder, was failed by many people in my home town of Hull, not least the authorities. Former paratrooper Chris, aged 37 and a father of two, died in 1998 in suspicious circumstances in a local police cell.
Chris had attended the Hull Royal Infirmary for treatment but had become unruly, or at least that was the decision at the time. His injuries were the result of a fight outside a city centre nightclub and it is not known if these contributed to his hostile manner.
In the end the police were called and Chris was hauled off to the cells at the Queen's Gardens Police Station. This is where Chris died.
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’."
In spite of a damning report the officers found guilty did not receive appropriate punishment. Finally the body of Chris was released to his family for a dignified burial. Or at least that is what his loved ones thought. Five months after the burial it was discovered that Chris's heart was still at Sheffield in a morgue. Worse was still to come though.
In a major error the body of Christopher Alder was still in our City Morgue last Friday, November 4, 2011.
The error came to light when the family of Grace Kamara were arranging her funeral. Grace had died in 1999. All her family live in Nigeria and so Grace was kept in a deep freeze until she could be repatriated home for burial. She was to be repatriated last Friday when her body was inspected. It was then the gross error was discovered. The body was that of Christopher Alder.
Obviously both families are distraught. The mix up possibly occurred when Hull Mortuary moved residence but the full facts are not known. Suffice to say this heaps more heartache onto the family of Mr Alder and also does so to another family.
Today November 7, 2011 the Council Chief has apologised profusely. That may be the right thing to do but it changes nothing. RIP and condolences.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog