Murder police in Rev John Suddards case 'trashed my van', says Bristol man
AN electrician who had to repair his van after it was seized during a murder investigation is still demanding compensation, nearly a year on.
Detectives had seized the vehicle as they searched for the killer of the Rev John Suddards, who was stabbed to death in his vicarage near St Mary's Church, Thornbury, by Stephen Farrow on February 13 last year.
John Dean had allowed a homeless friend to stay in the van – which was parked at his home on Knapp Road, about a mile from the vicarage – while Mr Dean was on holiday in Malta.
Early in the investigation, police arrested the homeless man and towed the van away before stripping it to look for evidence. Forensics officers also searched Mr Dean's house, grounds and a boat in his garden.
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The homeless man was released without charge and psychopath Farrow was later jailed for life for the murder of Mr Suddards and a Worcestershire pensioner.
But when the van was returned to him the internal panels were "hanging off" and Mr Dean claims his glovebox had been broken.
Although the van was not in pristine condition when it was seized, Mr Dean was unhappy with the state in which police returned it.
He invoiced Avon and Somerset Constabulary at a rate of £43 per hour for work to make the white Citroen Berlingo "roadworthy".
The 68-year-old, who has since sold the van, said: "I think it's absolutely disgusting. It was a very careless way to treat someone's property.
"They should have returned it in good order. Instead, it was returned to me in an un-roadworthy condition.
"It took me four hours to repair the van and another hour to put the boat in my garden right, which had its covers removed."
After police refused to pay Mr Dean the £215 he asked for, he complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which decided his grievance did not constitute a legitimate "complaint" under the Police Reform Act and refused to investigate. This month, he received a letter of apology from the police but was told he would not be paid any compensation.
Chief Inspector Kevan Rowlands, of the force's professional standards unit, said: "We aim to leave any premises or property as we find it and to take proper care of any items seized. These are always returned when they are no longer needed.
"In this case, we have apologised to Mr Dean for failing to fully secure the wood panels on the side of his van before it was returned following forensic examination.
"This car was off the road at the time it was seized and was being used as shelter for a homeless man.
"We have looked at Mr Dean's claim in depth and do not feel that it is appropriate to use public funds to compensate him."