Norwich widow's shock over body parts retained by police

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Media captionLast week it was revealed that nearly 500 body parts have been stored needlessly

A widow from Norwich whose husband was killed 14 years ago has said it was a "horrible shock" to be told police had retained parts of his body.

Prisoner Dave Colley, 48, was fatally attacked by an inmate at HMP Wayland in Norfolk in 1998.

His heart and brain had been kept at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and were found during a recent audit by Norfolk and Suffolk Police.

Police said they would pay for a cremation, if desired, in six cases.

Sandie Colley, 61, said: "It took me a long time to get over my husband's death.

"It's a huge blow that when we had the first cremation we didn't cremate all of him.

"You think it's all behind you and you don't think about it so much any more.

"It was a total bolt out of the blue. I had no idea parts of him had been kept."

'Legal requirements'

Colley, who had three children with his wife, had been convicted of cultivating cannabis and died just months after the start of his prison sentence.

He was punched by a fellow prisoner, Leon Van Brown, who later admitted manslaughter and was given an 18-month sentence, police said.

Image caption Dave Colley died after he was punched by an inmate

Police said that after a suspicious or unexplained death, the police or coroner routinely use powers to retain material taken from bodies at post-mortem examinations.

"In some cases, material is retained for significant periods as a result of police investigations and in order to fulfil legal requirements," a spokesman said.

It said a national audit of samples held by, or on behalf of, the police or the coroner, identified human tissues that should no longer be retained.

Officers identified six cases in Norfolk and eight cases in Suffolk.

"Both forces appointed family liaison officers, who have over the course of the last few weeks been contacting families affected to explain the situation and offer support," the spokesman added.

"This is a sensitive issue and our priority throughout this has been the families affected by this process.

"The constabulary will pay for cremation of any tissue samples identified in the audit if this is in line with the family's wishes."

Mrs Colley said she was planning a private cremation in late June.

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