Weybourne body: Plea for new Michael Sutherland inquest

Michael Sutherland
Image caption The family said they were glad Mr Sutherland had not been cremated

A coroner is set to apply for a new inquest after a man found in the sea off Norfolk 23 years ago was finally identified with DNA tests.

Michael Sutherland, 34, was found by fishermen at Weybourne in 1989 and buried in an unmarked grave in 1990.

However, his body was exhumed this year and DNA analysis matched the family of missing Mr Sutherland, of Lincolnshire.

Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said he would ask the Attorney General for his authority to apply for an inquest.

Pay respects

On Thursday, a memorial service was held at All Saints Church, Weybourne, for the Sutherland family.

They said they were relieved to finally be able to pay their respects to a brother and uncle who went missing from Cleethorpes in September 1989.

He was found in Weybourne the following month, but a six-month inquiry by police failed to work out who he was.

Officers investigating missing persons cases extracted DNA from his teeth and found a match on the missing person database.

Mr Armstrong said the then Norwich Coroner James Hipwell held an inquest in April 1990 into the death of an "unknown person".

Image caption The family of Mr Sutherland paid their respects in Weybourne on Thursday

"The identity of the person remained unascertained and the then coroner recorded an open verdict," he said.

If Mr Armstrong is successful in his approach to the Attorney General, he will then apply to the High Court for an order directing that a new inquest takes place.

Officers from Operation Mouldsworth are looking into all cases of missing people from Norfolk and Suffolk. Currently there are about 120 outstanding.

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