No IPCC investigation to take place into Dorset landslide deaths

 

The police watchdog will not investigate the case of an elderly couple who lay dead in their car for up to 10 days following a landslide.

Dorset Police referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after a high level of interest in the case.

Rosemary Snell, 67, and Michael Rolfe, 72, were killed on July 7 when their silver Skoda was flattened in a tunnel by hundreds of tons of mud and rubble.

The couple, both from Somerset, were making their way home following a romantic meal at the Bridge House Hotel when the landslide engulfed their car as they passed through Beaminster Tunnel.

The IPCC said it had assessed the case and decided there was no issue for the watchdog to investigate.

A spokesman said: "The case from Dorset has been referred back to the force for investigation locally."

The announcement comes as Avon and Somerset Police confirmed they had referred the handling of the initial missing persons inquiry to the IPCC.

"Dorset Police has referred the matter to the IPCC," a force spokesman said.

"Subsequently Avon and Somerset Police were asked as part of the IPCC inquiry to support the investigation into these tragic circumstances.

"We have now voluntarily provided details of our investigation."

The bodies of Ms Snell, from Misterton, near Crewkerne, and Mr Rolfe, from Fivehead, near Taunton, were not recovered until July 17 after Avon and Somerset Police requested a search of the site following a missing persons report.

An inquest, which was opened and adjourned on Friday, heard rescue efforts could not have saved the couple who died almost instantaneously.

West Dorset Coroner's Court heard the cause of death for Ms Snell was chest compression due to being trapped in landslip, while Mr Rolfe died following a fracture of the cervical spine as he was also trapped.

The coroner said the death of Ms Snell would have been very rapid, while the death of Mr Rolfe would have been instantaneous.

PA

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