Mystery memory-loss man possibly identified

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The mystery surrounding the identity of a smartly-dressed man found unconscious and freezing on a beach was solved today after his fiancee stepped forward.

The man, who sparked a nationwide appeal for help in identifying him after he suffered memory loss, has been revealed to be a 26-year-old from London.

He was discovered by a passer-by unconscious and soaking wet on Brighton beach in East Sussex, between the Palace Pier and the Marina, on February 12.

It is not known how long he had lain there for but he was suffering from hypothermia and was admitted to the city's Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Sussex Police said his fiancee saw newspaper reports about his plight and travelled from the capital to Brighton today to identify him.

A police spokesman said: "Having made inquiries and considered all the circumstances we are satisfied that this is so."

His family have been informed but neither they nor the man have given authority for his identity to be publicly released, police said.

Inspector Roy Apps, who led the inquiry, said: "We are grateful to the media for the publicity which has resulted in our solving this mystery."

The man remains in hospital while doctors consider whether he needs any further treatment. Earlier, police said he was in a "fragile state" but was making a good physical recovery.

Mr Apps said: "In two weeks he has made a remarkable recovery in hospital, but he is in a fragile state and is therefore being treated as a vulnerable person.

"He has a happy, positive, cheerful personality and has been very helpful to us in trying to establish his identity. We believe that this is a genuine case of memory loss."

He speaks good English without any apparent accent, and appears to have some general knowledge of south-east England.

Mr Apps added: "We have taken him out and about in Brighton and Hove in a bid to jog his memory and, while he appears to show some recognition, we are not sure that this is the case.

"When introduced to police officers and nurses he has sometimes assumed that their names are his own."

The case has drawn comparisons to the discovery of a man, dubbed the Piano Man, in Kent in 2005.

He was found wandering aimlessly near the beach in Minster on the Isle of Sheppey, wearing a dripping-wet suit and tie, and all the labels from his clothes had been removed.

Staff at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, where he was first taken, gave him a pen and paper in the hope he would write his name or draw his country's flag.

Instead, he drew highly-detailed pictures of a grand piano, showing not only the keys but the intricate inner workings of the instrument.

When a social worker showed him a piano in the hospital chapel, he played classical music "beautifully".

After several months, he claimed his memory had returned and it emerged he was Andreas Grassl from Germany.