Police take corpse from funeral hearse

POLICE stopped a hearse on its way to a funeral so they could commandeer the corpse inside.

POLICE stopped a hearse on its way to a funeral so they could commandeer the corpse inside.

The move, which happened in Colchester, came after CCTV footage came to light amid allegations of police brutality.

The coffin containing the body of Stuart Smith, 37, was taken to Colchester General Hospital for tests after suggestions that excessive force had been used when he was arrested in the town centre three days before his death.

An initial post mortem examination suggested that Mr Smith, a former heroin addict who lived in Larch Close, had died of a drug overdose.

But after CCTV evidence was considered by investigators, police decided further tests should be carried out.

Police pulled the hearse over as it was on its way to the funeral at Colchester Crematorium on October 8, three weeks after his death.

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The force has referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for investigation.

It has also suspended one officer and placed another on restricted duties.

Essex Police has since agreed to cover the costs of the funeral ceremony.

A police spokesman said: “Police are investigating the circumstances leading up to the death of a 37-year-old-man found at an address in Colchester on Thursday, September 17.

“The man had been arrested by police three days earlier.

“A post-mortem examination has shown that the provisional cause of death is due to a drugs overdose and officers are awaiting the results of toxicology results.

“One officer is on restricted duties and another has been suspended while inquiries continue.

“The incident has been referred to the IPCC and they are carrying out a supervised investigation.

“Senior officers at Colchester police station met with the family on Friday, October 9 and will be keeping them informed of significant developments in the investigation.

“Furthermore, Essex Police will be paying for all the costs associated with the cancellation of the funeral.”