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Thursday 30 March 2017

Family stays silent over exhumation of Olympic star's body

Elaine Keogh and Shane Phelan

THE family of boxer Darren Sutherland was silent last night over the outcome of a second post-mortem examination of the Olympic hero's remains.

The bronze medalist's body was exhumed at around 5am yesterday at a graveyard in Navan, Co Meath, before being examined by an independent pathologist. He was reinterred yesterday afternoon.

The dramatic development came after fears were raised by the North's state pathologist, Professor Jack Crane, that someone else may have been involved in Sutherland's death.

The boxer, who represented Ireland at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was found hanged in his flat in south London last September. He was 27. It appeared he had taken his own life and the Metropolitan Police did not treat his death as suspicious after getting the results of an initial post-mortem.

However, after being asked to review the findings by the Sutherland family, Prof Crane issued a report that was highly critical of the post-mortem.

Prof Crane said the presence of a loosely tied ligature around Sutherland's hands was never explained and it "raises some concern about the possibility of involvement of a third party".

Prof Crane also described the toxicology report as "meaningless" because it did not specify what drugs or alcohol were screened for.

The inquest into Sutherland's death was opened and adjourned last September.

A second hearing is due to be held in November, when any new evidence from yesterday's examination may be brought forward.

Last night, relatives said Sutherland's parents Tony and Lynda had "no comment" to make on the day's events.

Solicitors representing the Sutherland family did not return calls seeking comment.

His family has previously spoken of their unhappiness with the results of the original post-mortem and in June they were granted a licence by Meath County Council for the exhumation of his remains.

Coffin

It is understood that none of the family were in attendance at St Finian's Cemetery when the exhumation began. A coffin containing Sutherland's remains was brought to and from the mortuary at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan.

Gardai kept a low-key presence at the graveyard and it remained closed to the public until his remains were reinterred.

It's not known when the findings of the second post-mortem will be given to the family.

A statement issued on their behalf last weekend said they were "not at liberty" to reveal the specific reasons for the exhumation. However, the statement added that they hoped a second post-mortem would assist the coroner's inquest when it reconvenes.

Irish Independent

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