Man's tells of arrest after wife's death

“IT was like being caught up in a nightmare.”That is Chris Newbury's stark assessment of the day his life was turned upside down. He had woken up to find his wife, Elaine, had died suddenly overnight, called the emergency services and promptly found himself arrested on suspicion of murder.

“IT was like being caught up in a nightmare.”

That is Chris Newbury's stark assessment of the day his life was turned upside down.

He had woken up to find his wife, Elaine, had died suddenly overnight, called the emergency services and promptly found himself arrested on suspicion of murder.

Then while he should have been grieving for his wife of 32 years, he was forced to strip, put on a white paper suit and plimsolls, and left in a police cell while detectives went through his home in Clarence Road.

It was only after a post mortem examination confirmed that his wife had died of natural causes that he was released and allowed to go home to grieve with the rest of his family.

As he left the police station Mr Newbury said a detective constable who had been holding him told him: “No hard feelings, we were just doing our job. I made the wrong call.”

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Mr Newbury, 57, a former Ipswich councillor, is now writing to chief constable Alastair McWhirter to complain about his treatment and to demand that no one else should be put through the same ordeal before the police know whether any crime has been committed.

He said: “Elaine died from liver failure. She had problems within herself and she drank a lot. We tried to get help, but there was not enough support.

“Because of her problems, and she had difficulty in sleeping at night, we had been sleeping in separate rooms for a few months.

“But my clothes were still in our room and when I got up on that day I went in to get myself a shirt. I didn't put the light on.”

Mrs Newbury often snoozed during the day and sat up late at night in the couple's conservatory smoking and having a drink.

“When I went downstairs I expected to find her in the conservatory. She wasn't there and I checked whether she had left the house to go to my daughter's who lives nearby.

“The door was still locked with the key in it so I knew something was wrong. I went back upstairs to the bedroom and I found her dead on the floor on the other side of the bed.

“I couldn't see her from the door when I had fetched my shirt.”

When the ambulance crew arrived they were concerned about how she had fallen and about the condition of her body.

“Her head was at the wrong end of the bed for her to have fallen out of bed, but I explained that she may have just come upstairs after being in the conservatory.

“But they said enough to worry the police. A detective constable read the caution, put me in handcuffs and took me down to the police station.

“As soon as I got there I had to strip off all my clothes - even my underwear - and put on a paper suit, which was too small for me, and plimsolls.”

Mr Newbury was held in the cells with an officer watching him while scenes of crime officers went through his house - which was by then sealed off with tape and had officers standing guard outside.

At 11.30am the police issued a press release saying that a man had been arrested after an unexplained death in Clarence Road. They quickly confirmed he was being held on suspicion of murder.

“My normal solicitor was away but Charles Riddleston, who stepped in, said he couldn't believe what they had done.”

One situation which frustrated him was the fact that he never saw any senior police officer.

“It was all Pcs and Dcs. There didn't seem to be anyone in charge. When I asked who was running the inquiry I wasn't told.

“When they did tell me they told me someone different to what they had told my solicitor. It seemed as if no one was running the inquiry.”

As soon as the results of the post mortem was known Mr Newbury was given his clothes back and freed from the police station.

He said: “As I left a Dc who had been there right at the start said: 'No hard feelings. We were just doing our job. I made the wrong call.'

“I was numb when he said that. My wife had just died suddenly and I'd then been put through nine hours of hell. There just didn't seem to be any sensitivity to the fact that I'd just lost my wife.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said they were unable to comment on any details about the inquiry but said there were circumstances surrounding Mrs Newbury's death that needed investigation.

“As soon as the results of the post mortem were known the person arrested was released straight away and it ceased to be a police matter,” he said.

If Mr Newbury wished to make a complaint about his treatment by the police, it would be handled in the normal manner.

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