Death riddle

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A family have made a heartfelt plea for anyone with any information on how their father died to come forward and assist an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office.

53 year-old Gerard Hampson, whose last address was Northland Road in Derry, was found dead in Lough Neagh four years ago on January 9 after being missing for around six weeks.

He was originally from Banagher outside Dungiven.

The family say his death has been “dismissed as just a suicide” but they’ve been left with unanswerered questions.

His son Denis told the Journal; “My father’s body was found naked in the water and his clothes or phone were never found. Also he had a gash on his head and the police said it might have been caused in the water but how would they know that?

“But one of the things that just does not add up is that my father had a morbid fear of water. So much so that when I was nine years-old playing in Buncrana I started floating out to sea and my father literally could not come to my rescue he had that big a fear of water. Someone else had to rescue me.

“Would someone that afraid of water drown himself?”

Denis’s sister Bridgeen Carlin, who lives in Burnfoot, said: “My father was not the type of person to commit suicide. Yes, at the time he was scared. He said he was scared of going back to prison, or as he put it ‘getting done over’, but suicide was not the sort of option he would take.

“Somebody out there knows what happened to our father and we are appealing to anyone who saw him or knows anything about what happened to him to contact either us, or the police or the Pat Finucane Centre on 71288846.

“None of this adds up. My father’s clothes or phone were never found, no one has explained how he came by his injuries and he deserves better than to be dismissed as just a suicide.”

The family asked the Police Ombudsman’s Office to look into the death and were refused but the PSNI were asked to review the case. After this review the Pat Finucane Centre went back to the Police Ombudsman and they started investigating the death.

So far no date has been set for the completion of their investigation.

At the time the PSNI wished to question Mr. Hampson in connection with an incident and his family feel that the police were more interested in their father’s friends and connections than they were in finding him.

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Speaking yesterday, Bridgeen Carlin said that the family just wanted answers about what happened to their father.

She explained: “Everything we have been told simply does not add up.

“My father was last seen around the end of November 2007 by my younger sister.

“We knew the police were looking for him and he told me he would probably go to Scotland or go to jail.

“When we didn’t hear for him for a week or so I went to the police and reported him missing.”

She added: “I got the impression that the police were not that interested in helping us find my father. There was reports that he had been last seen in Maghera drinking with two men and that he had got on the bus at Castledawson to go to Dungiven but then there were other reports that he hadn’t.

“We continually asked the police to check for his phone and check his money but they were dismissive of this and I feel they didn’t really try.

“Then on January 9 they contacted me to tell me that there had been a body found in Lough Neagh but not to worry as it was that of a younger man.

“That night they phoned to tell me it was my father.”

Her brother Denis said: “They did not start looking to find out what happened until it was too late with all the CCTV footage being taped over and the like.”

Bridgeen said: “I think their attitude is best summed up when about three weeks later they rang me and gave me three phone numbers they said my father had phoned and asked me to check them out. Surely that was their job.

“I tried them and two numbers rang out. The other was somewhere my father had stayed.

“But it looks like the police did not even check his phone records.”

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Denis added: “My father’s body was found naked in the water and his clothes or phone were never found. Also my father had a gash on his head and the police said it might have been caused in the water but how would they know that?

“But one of the things that just does not add up is that my father had a morbid fear of water. So much so that when I was nine years-old playing in Buncrana in County Donegal I started floating out to sea and my father literally could not come to my rescue he had that big a fear of water. Someone else had to rescue me.

“Would someone that afraid of water drown himself?”

Bridgeen continued: “My father was not the type of person to commit suicide. Yes, at the time he was scared. He said he was scared of going back to prison or as he put it ‘getting done over’, but suicide was not the sort of option he would take.

“Somebody out there knows what happened to our father and we are appealing to anyone who saw him or knows anything about what happened to him to contact either us, or the police or the Pat Finucane Centre on 71288846.

“None of this adds up. My father’s clothes or phone were never found, no one has explained how he came by his injuries and he deserves better than to be dismissed as just a suicide.”

The family asked the Police Ombudsman’s Office to look into the death and were refused but the PSNI were asked to review the case. After this review the Pat Finucane Centre went back to the Police Ombudsman and they started investigating the death.

So far no date has been set for the completion of their investigation.