Inquest solves 25-year-old mystery

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Modern science developments and extensive police investigations were praised by a Coroner when he was able to solve a 25-year-old mystery of a man who fell into Scarborough Harbour.

North Yorkshire East Coroner, Michael Oakley, recorded an open verdict on the man who had been pulled from the harbour in May 1989 but never identified despite nationwide inquiries.

Mr Oakley said it was unusual for an inquest he held in 1989 to be re-opened.

However, the inquiry was re-opened by the police when new evidence had come forward, said Detective Constable Vincent Morris, of North Yorkshire Police.

As a result the dead man was able to be identified as David Robin Michael Dawes, a teacher, who was born in London, whose only known address was a guest house in Bury.

Det Con Morris told the resumed hearing at Scarborough Town Hall that one of Mr Dawes’ two daughters had seen an image which she believed was her father.

She told police that while he was not from Scarborough he was fond of the town.

He said a number of dentists had been contacted in the past to ascertain an identity but without success but new DNA samples taken from Mr Dawes’ two daughters, Elizabeth and Lucy and his son, Harry, all from his first marriage, had provided “very strong” evidence of his identity.

A DNA sample from Mr Dawes’ body had been retained at Scarborough Hospital had been used to match his children’s DNAs.

But no evidence had been found as to how he came to be in the harbour.

He said the police had carried out several reviews of the evidence periodically over 25 years.

Mr Oakley, who re-affirmed his original open verdict on the body, said it had now been possible to establish it as that of Mr Dawes, who had been born in London.

He said the details would be re-submitted for re-registration of the death.

He told Det Con Morris: “I thank you for the new evidence because it has provided some closure for the family, thanks to the development of modern science and extensive police investigations.”