Brit anti-corruption cop is found dead in his car submerged in the sea off the British Virgin Isles: Family’s fury as death is ruled ‘an unfortunate accident’
- Detective Paul France , 61, was found dead in his car in the sea on October 7
- Officials say they do not believe foul play was involved in his death, but his family have said they feel the case is suspicious and say they have been left ‘in the dark’
A British anti-corruption police officer has been found dead in his car submerged in the sea off the British Virgin islands, with his family saying they fear a cover-up.
Paul France, 61, was part of a team that investigated organised crime and corruption in the British overseas territory.
The father-of-four was found dead in his car on October 7, his vehicle completely submerged in sea water off the coast of Tortola, the BVI’s largest island.
According to reports, the discovery of the ex-Greater Manchester Police detective came just hours after drugs and guns were seized in raids.
Police chiefs on the island passed the case to the coroner, but the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force force told The Sun newspaper that his death was an ‘unfortunate accident’.
Paul France , 61, was part of a team that investigated organised crime and corruption in the British overseas territory. He was found dead in his car in October, fully submerged in the sea
An inquest into the incident also appears to have been scrapped, the publication reported.
This has sparked anger among Mr France’s family, who believe there is more to his death, and has rattled his colleagues.
‘Everyone thinks the same thing. How do you end up in the ocean?’ Anne, Mr France’s niece who is from Bolton, told The Sun.
‘We are angry we have been left in the dark.’
A source told the newspaper that Mr France’s death in October has left his police colleagues rattled.
‘It has unnerved a lot of them. They’re not wanted there,’ the source said.
However, officials on the island say they don’t believe any foul play has taken place.
Instead, they suspect a ‘medical episode’ or a ‘malfunction with the vehicle’ is the most likely explanation, Police Commissioner Mark Collins said in October.
‘I have nothing that suggests any foul play has taken place,’ he said.
‘I don’t think we can rule out a medical episode and I don’t think we can rule out a malfunction with the vehicle. I’m not going to go into the investigation because the file will be made available of course to the Coroner’s Court, but to answer your question, I don’t think he’s the type of guy that would have committed suicide.’
Mr France had been a police officer either in the UK or the BVI for 40 years, according to local reports in the aftermath of his death in October.
The vehicle was found off the coast of Tortola’s capital of Road Town, in the Waterfront area, which is close to Queen Elizabeth II Park.
Pictures from the scene show locals and police officers peering into the water, where the vehicle can be seen fully submerged.
Other images show the car being lifted out of the sea by a crane, with water pouring home the doors of the vehicle.
On the day, Mr Collins expressed his condolences to Mr France’s family.
‘The RVIPF has suffered the loss of one of our own,’ the Commissioner said.
The father-of-four was found dead in his car on October 7, his vehicle completely submerged in sea water off the coast of Tortola, the BVI’s largest island (pictured)
‘Detective France was a highly regarded member of our organisation, and this tragedy profoundly saddens us. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family.’
Meanwhile, Governor John Rankin CMG, also released a statement, saying he was saddened to hear of the loss of Detective France.
In a later press conference amid reports that more test results were being sought following an autopsy conducted on Mr France’s body, Governor Rankin also ruled out foul play.
‘Precisely what occurred is not yet clear,’ he said in late October. ‘I can state that there is so far no evidence that his death was a result of foul play.’
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