A coroner criticised bungling police after they failed to spot a man had been murdered — until UNDERTAKERS discovered a knife sticking out of his back, an inquest has heard.
Antoine Denis, 66, was found slumped on his back in the bedroom of his flat in Chatham, Kent, in January this year.
Detectives at the scene pronounced father-of-four Antoine dead but found nothing that suggested a crime had been committed.
It was only when undertakers arrived to remove the body that they found blood and a 12CM (4.7in) KNIFE stuck up to its hilt in Antoine’s back.
One of the officers received a verbal warning following an internal police investigation into the handling of the as yet unsolved murder.
Mid Kent and Medway coroner Roger Sykes criticised the police handling of the case and recorded a verdict of unlawful killing at an inquest into Antoine’s death held in Maidstone, Kent, on Thursday.
He said: ”My understanding is that in the process of the undertaker’s preparation it was discovered there was some blood and indeed a knife and at that stage investigating officers attended.”
Det Con Linda Robb said: ”That is true. I think because of the flat being in darkness and him lying on his back there was no outward sign of anything untoward.”
Coroner Sykes concluded the inquest by appealing for anyone with information on Antoine’s murder to contact Kent Police.
He said: ”It is always unsatisfactory when I conclude an inquest when the full circumstances have not been revealed.”
Officers had arrived at the scene and discovered retired painter and decorator Antoine lying on his bedroom floor where a police nurse pronounced him dead.
But when undertakers arrived to remove the Antoine’s corpse they rolled him over and found dried blood and a knife in his back.
Detectives recovered the knife and police spent almost three days at the flats carrying out forensic investigations.
In April an internal investigation was opened into the handling of the crime scene and an officer was spoken to about procedural matters.
Coroner Sykes told the inquest Antoine died from a single stab wound, which penetrated his lung due to ”the unlawful act of a person whose identity has not yet been established”.
He said Antoine died on or around December 27 last year because a newspaper, which he bought every day, was found for that date.
Kim Albone, of Chatham, was arrested and charged with Antoine’s murder on January 21 but was later released after a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Det Chief Insp Dave Chewter has appealed for anyone with information on the murder to come forward.
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