Telford: Inquiry into 240 race crimes

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the suspicious hangings of two black men in Telford are examining 240 other racial crimes committed in the town over the past three years.

Errol and Jason McGowan died within six months of each other, after a series of death threats and a campaign of racial harassment against the family. Police are investigating their deaths with a "presumption of foul play" and are studying the activities of racists active in the Shropshire town.

The investigation was reopened after protests by the family that earlier police inquiries had been based on an assumption that the men had committed suicide.

At a fresh appeal for witnesses yesterday, the detective leading the investigation defended the delay in gathering scientific evidence from the scene of one of the deaths. Nearly 10 months after Harold "Errol" McGowan was found hanging from a door handle with an electric flex around his neck, on July 2, West Mercia police removed the door and other items from the house for fingerprinting, on Wednesday.

Detective Superintendent Mel Shore said a preliminary forensic report by his force had been sent to the Metropolitan Police, whose own recommendations were awaited before the house was examined. "If we had gone to the house very quickly we may well have acted on one review, only to find that other things should have been done," he said. "That house is someone's home and we wanted... minimum disruption."

The removal of the items came the day before a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, for which the former head of scientific support for Surrey Police, Paul Millen, assessedthe scene and said he was "embarrassed" by the force's work.

Det Supt Shore said documents showed police had wanted to remove the doors earlier.