Body of young father who 'fled from police' found handcuffed in Southampton river

Reece Hillier disappeared in January and had a baby son

The body of Reece Hillier, 22, was found handcuffed in a river in Southampton
The body of Reece Hillier, 22, was found handcuffed in a river in Southampton

A young father’s body has been found handcuffed in a river, months after he disappeared after allegedly running away from police.

Reece Hillier’s family and friends have appealed for news of his whereabouts since he went missing in January.

The 22-year-old’s body was recovered from the River Itchen in Southampton over the weekend and police have launched an investigation into the circumstances of his death.

“We can confirm that he was handcuffed, having been detained by police in Southampton on 12 January,” a spokesperson for Hampshire Police said. “Initial enquiries suggest the body had been in the water for some time. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this time. An internal review is ongoing and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”

The man was named locally as Mr Hillier and his loved ones said they were “heartbroken” by the news.

He reportedly vanished after police told him he would be searched for drugs and faced arrest.

Officers searched for him but found no trace until a fisherman discovered a body on Sunday.

Local court records show that Mr Hillier had previous convictions.

Flowers, tributes and balloons had been left at the scene near Riverside Park, where his body was found.

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Mr Hillier’s Facebook page showed photos of him with his baby son, who was born last year.

His sister called him the “life and soul of every party”, while a friend called him a “lovable rogue”.

One friend accused the police of causing Mr Hillier’s death, writing on Facebook: “They are to blame.”

A spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct said Hampshire Police had passed on details of the case.

“Following an assessment it was decided that Hampshire Constabulary should conduct a local investigation,” a statement added.

A post-mortem examination took place earlier this week and an inquest will be opened when the body has been formally identified.

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