Family attack 'bumbling' police over missing teacher

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The Independent Online

The family of a missing teacher whose body was found 10 months after she vanished today attacked the police for their "bumbling" investigation.

Sarah Flooks, 50, disappeared on March 2 last year after leaving home in Wanstead, east London, for work at Monega Primary School in nearby Forest Gate.

Police said they believe they have now found her body in wooded undergrowth in Wanstead Park, around a mile from her home.

It is still not known how she died.

Following her disappearance officers searched large areas of parkland close to her last known sightings.

But the area of woodland where the body was eventually found was not included, police said today.

Ms Flooks' brother Tim said he was angry that they had not previously searched the specific piece of woodland.

He said: "Having seen the way the police dealt with the inquiry I am certainly not impressed. Sometimes it seemed as if they were just bumbling along.

"It seems like the woodland where they found the body was very close to the house.

"The police did say that they had searched the park and I know that it is a big area, but not that big."

Mr Flooks, who is in Bulgaria on a skiing trip but returning home tomorrow, added that his sisters had gathered at the family home in Somerset to offer support to Ms Flooks' mother.

He said: "She is putting a brave face on it at the moment. Until now we had a glimmer of hope that Sarah would come back."

But he added that "if anything" the family would react with "relief" that the mystery had been partly solved.

A police spokesman said: "Although there has been no formal identification at this stage, officers believe the body to be that of missing schoolteacher Sarah Flooks.

"As part of the investigation into her disappearance officers searched large areas of parkland close to the last known sightings of Sarah.

"The area of woodland where the body has been discovered was not part of the ground search but all remaining parkland, which stretches into Epping Forest towards Woodford, was searched by the Met's air support unit - utilising specialist heat-seeking equipment."

The body was found in undergrowth between the park's Ornamental Lakes and the River Roding, which runs parallel to London's busy north circular road, the A406.

Forensic teams are gathering evidence at the scene and the area has been sealed off, the spokesman said.

Police have yet to move the body and a full post mortem examination is not due to take place until the beginning of next week at the earliest, he added.

Meanwhile, her death is still being treated as "unexplained".

The teacher left her home in Wanstead Park Avenue at 7am on March 2 and told her partner John Mouzouros she would be home late.

She did not arrive at the school and her blue car was later found the next day parked and locked in Northumberland Avenue, Wanstead.

Her partner told a news conference last year that Ms Flooks was due to undergo an Ofsted report.

Mr Mouzouros, also 50, said she had worked late two nights before she disappeared but appeared calm before she vanished.

He told the media how the disappearance of Ms Flooks, with whom he had lived for 30 years, had been "one long nightmare".

"It has been ghastly," Mr Mouzouros said in the news conference.

"It is all like one long day, one long never-ending day. You are in this kind of treadmill just reiterating the problem and going over the facts."

He said that the Ofsted report was "bothering" her but added that "this time she seemed a lot calmer about it".