Police apologise for death knock error

Merseyside Police has issued an apology and launched a “full internal review” after a mother was told her son had died, only for to him answer his phone when she called him.

Jan 31, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Officers wrongly identified the man from a Facebook account.

The error is understood to have occurred after officers wrongly identified a body found in a children’s park in St Helens, Liverpool, last Sunday (January 26) by using social media.

Believing the deceased was 39-year-old Wes McDonnell from Northampton, they used a Facebook account in that name to make contact with his ex-girlfriend. She provided contact details for his mother.

The Merseyside officers then made arrangements for colleagues from Northamptonshire Police to attend the mother’s address and inform her that her son had died.

Mr McDonnell told Mirror Online: “Police turned up at my mum’s house, sat her down and told her I was dead. She rang me up thinking I wasn’t going to answer the phone and when I answered she was hysterical.”

Mr McDonnell said Merseyside Police later called his mother to explain how they had used Facebook to make the identification. “They put two and two together and got five,” he said.

Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy said: “We are extremely sorry for any distress that we have caused to Mr McDonnell and his family. We have had further contact with Mr McDonnell’s family and a full internal review is underway so we can understand exactly what happened and assess what we can learn from this incident to ensure it does not happen again.”

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