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Missing man found dead in home - after police failed to look for him there
POLICE have admitted that they failed the family of a man whose body was found at his home 12 days after a missing person investigation was launched.
An inquest heard that officers had failed to go into Amar Khosah’s flat to see if he was inside, leaving his sister to eventually find his body after breaking in.
Coroner Keith Wiseman suggested that Mr Khosah, 52, may have been found alive if police had acted with greater urgency.
Force chiefs acknowledged that officers should have checked the flat in Southampton, while an internal review has found that there was “confusion” and “limitations” in the investigation.
No officers have been disciplined, although Hampshire police’s missing persons policy has been overhauled and all officers involved in the investigation will face extra training. It comes less than two weeks after the Daily Echo reported how police had failed profoundly deaf pensioner Marion Jones, who called 999 after falling at her home in Milford on Sea.
Despite an officer being sent to her home, he left after receiving no answer at the door. The body of 89-year-old Mrs Jones was found five days later.
Mr Khosah was reported as missing on July 23 by his mental health worker after he failed to attend two appointments.
Although police called at his house several times and posted notes through the door, no attempt was made to gain entry.
It was claimed by family friend Fabian Nicholas at the inquest at Southampton Coroner’s Court that police had been given permission to force entry to Mr Khosah’s flat by his sister Simbo, who lives in London.
However Inspector Phil Lamb said that there was no record of any such permission.
Mr Khosah’s body was discovered on August 4 by his other sister, Amar Sameja, who lives in Southampton and had returned from India on July 31.
She broke into his flat in James Street, St Mary’s, and found him on his bed.
Pathologist Dr Sanjay Jogai said that he could not be sure when Mr Khosah had died, but that it would probably have been two to five days prior to the discovery of his body.
Mr Khosah had died following an "enormous" overdose of prescription painkillers.
Mr Wiseman recorded an open verdict, saying that he had insufficient evidence to be sure whether Mr Khosah had either taken his own life on purpose or accidentally.
But he was critical of the police investigation, saying: “The property could have been entered at any time from July 23 onwards. This becomes intriguing because if he had not in fact died at that stage then we do have a situation where if the property had been entered he could have been found wholly unharmed.”
Two internal reviews were carried out by the Investigations Standards Team and Hampshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department into the handling of the investigation, both of which concluded that “there was confusion among officers” about the status of Mr Khosah’s disappearance.
The reviews also noted that: “Officers did not exercise enough urgency. The investigation needed greater continuity and control.
“The concerns of the mental health worker should have made officers increase the risk factor.”
SUPERINTENDENT James Fulton said: “Once again I wish to extend our sympathies to Mr Khosah’s family. I recognise that this has been a very difficult time for them and that they have lost a much-loved member of their family.
“While it cannot be concluded that the investigation, if managed differently, would have led to a different outcome, there is evidence that the investigation could have been concluded sooner if it had been graded appropriately.
“It was clear that officers had not applied the force’s missing person policy correctly, that the investigation lacked ownership and consistency and that officers should have considered searching Mr Khosah’s property earlier.
“The Professional Standards Department (PSD) investigation concluded that no individual officer or police staff member had a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct. However, following the coroner’s comments, PSD will review further what individual and organisational learning should follow.
“We have also assured Mr Khosah’s family that all officers involved in this investigation are being spoken to and given refresher training on the problem areas highlighted.
“The force is reviewing policy to establish clearer guidance on the levels of risk and the correct categories of missing people, establishing clear standards of investigation for attending officers.
Force training will support the roll-out of the amended policy. The force is determined to learn the lessons of this case and we will incorporate the coroner’s findings into the review of how we deal with missing people in future.”
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