Student broke into mortuary to hunt woman he loved

A heartbroken student broke into a mortuary with an axe and examined corpses under the mistaken belief that a woman he fancied had died, police said today.

Benjamin Barton, of Bognor Regis, West Sussex, pleaded guilty at Southampton Crown Court to a charge of criminal damage but was acquitted of an offence of burglary.

The court heard that the 24-year-old had fallen for Amy Ogden whom he had met at the University of Southampton but feared she had been killed when he was unable to contact her for several days in the run-up to Valentine's Day.

The court heard Barton's feelings for Ms Ogden were unrequited as she already had a boyfriend.

Convinced that she had died, he went to Southampton General Hospital and managed to talk his way into the morgue, claiming he was a medical student and had left his work inside.

But when he was told by a manager to return the next day, he came back with an axe and other tools and broke an internal door to enter the mortuary.

Once inside he searched through confidential records and even looked at various bodies in a bid to locate Ms Ogden.

Hampshire police spokesman Ian Sainsbury said: "Barton went into the mortuary looking for Ms Ogden but at the time she was actually safe and well at her family home elsewhere in the country.

"After he was arrested he told police he had been suffering from a broken heart and became convinced something had happened to her.

"He kicked the main door in and then used the axe to get into the mortuary.

"He said he then checked records before going to the drawers containing the unidentified bodies and looked at them to see if they were her. When he finally became convinced she wasn't there he left."

Barton was placed under a 12-month community supervision order and told to complete nine months' mental health treatment. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation.