Update: New inquest sought on man whose body washed up on Weybourne beach 23 years ago

A new inquest is being sought on a man whose body was washed up on a north Norfolk beach 23 years ago.

The news came just hours after Michael Sutherland's family held a dedication service in his memory, after new DNA techniques had tracked him down and ended their years of agony not knowing what had happened to him.

And his sister used the service to send a message of hope to other families in the same situation.

Mr Sutherland's body washed up on Weybourne beach in October 1989 but despite a six-month police investigation, he could not be identified.

Now, more than two decades on and thanks to a remarkable breakthrough in forensic science, the family was reunited after DNA revealed his identity.


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Back in April 1990 villagers from Weybourne gathered for a poignant funeral at the village cemetery with flowers picked from their own gardens.

But Mr Sutherland's family made the 118-mile journey to Norfolk after organising a dedication service at the village's All Saints Church.

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His sister Ann Stockton, 67, of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, read a eulogy at the service and paid tribute to her 'polite, respectful and kind' brother.

Speaking at the service she said: 'That last week of his life was tragic and very sad.

'Regretfully on September 22, 1989, he took himself to Cleethorpes beach and it was here he took his life and drowned himself.

'Eighteen days later he became part of your shore.'

Mrs Stockton praised the local community for their efforts organising a funeral for her brother and also to the fishermen who found him that day.

She added that the actions of the village had 'gripped her heart with joy' and that the family had been comforted by what they had done.

'Michael thought he was no one in this world but what a legacy he has left - he has given hope to all the people who are still waiting,' she added.

'For people out there who are going through the hurt accepting someone is missing please don't give up hope as DNA has helped us.'

The service was taken by Fr Phil Blamire and Mrs Stockton and her family were joined by Les and Jean Amis, of Cromer and District Funeral Services who organised the original funeral, and Marjory Martin, chairman of Weybourne Parish Council.

Afterwards Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said he would be seeking permission, through the Attorney General and High Court, to hold a new inquest on Mr Sutherland.

It was a move done following a meeting with Mrs Stockton and a civilian investigator with the Norfolk and Suffolk Police joint Major Investigation Team.

At the original inquest in April 1990 the then Norwich Coroner James Hipwell recorded an open verdict on the then unknown body found at Weybourne.

? For more on this story see tomorrow's EDP.

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