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'Loose ends' spark fresh inquest plea

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 18, 2013

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THE family of a Swansea man whose badly decomposed body washed up on a Cornish beach have called for a new inquest into his death.

Richard Price went missing after fleeing the scene of a late night car crash in Hafod.

A little over four weeks later, what turned out to be his headless body was found at a rocky cove near Bude.

But it was six months before it was formally matched with the missing 37-year-old electrical engineer, of Trebanos.

An open verdict was later recorded at his inquest by Swansea coroner Philip Rogers, who said: "This is a case where there are a great number of unanswered questions and, unfortunately, I suspect those are questions that will never be answered with any degree of certainty."

At the time, the dead man's mother Win Price called for greater co-operation between police forces when an unidentified body was found washed up.

Now, more than seven years on from his death, her search for answers has intensified.

She alleged there were inconsistencies in the police investigation, which South Wales Police referred at the time to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which in turn concluded there was no reason for it to investigate.

The family have contacted politicians and engaged the services of a solicitor and private investigator.

"I would like to have a fresh inquest, with a jury," said Mrs Price.

She also alleged there were discrepancies in evidence given at the inquest compared to earlier, written accounts.

The 65-year-old, of Cwrt Mawr Farm, Felindre, said the family's quest has cost thousands of pounds.

Her solicitor Glynn Maddocks, of Gabb and Co Solicitors, said: "It's going to be a lifetime quest, for Mrs Price in particular — and she's not going to give up. The family have learnt a vast amount since (Mr Price's death)."

In Mr Maddocks' view, there were "so many loose ends".

He said the Prices were aiming to find enough new evidence to make an application to the High Court for a new inquest.

Keith Protheroe, of private investigators Pendragon UK, said: "When I first had the case I thought, 'Here is a woman who can't get over the death of her son'."

But he said his view had changed, alleging that he too had come across inconsistencies. Mr Protheroe has examined the aftermath of the original car crash on Neath Road, which took place in the early hours of November 6, 2005, and said he felt there was "just too much not right" with the case.

The Prices may never know what happened to their son and brother, as suggested by the coroner six years ago. But they have not ruled out foul play.

Speaking at the family farm, Mr Price's brother William, 38, said: "You are carrying a cloud over your head. Every time it goes through your head, you get more questions."

In the hours before he disappeared, Mr Price had watched a rugby international and visited a nightclub with friends.

The 2007 inquest heard the possibility that he had, after fleeing the scene of the car crash, fallen into the River Tawe and been swept over or through the Tawe Barrage and into the sea. His head has never been found.

At the time, Mr Price was living with his heavily pregnant partner in Swansea Road.

A South Wales Police spokesman said: "The incident was fully investigated at the time, which resulted in an open verdict being recorded at the inquest in April 2007.

"The matter was also reported to the force professional standards department as it was a death following police contact.

"It was also referred to the IPCC who, having reviewed police actions to the point of referral, concluded there was no reason for them to conduct an investigation into the matter."

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