August 1 2014 Latest news:
By Aimee Brannen and Jon Dean
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A garden is being dug up in a search for human remains after a tip-off – possibly from beyond the grave – sparked one of the biggest mysteries to hit the borough for years.
Forensic teams began the excavation at the rear of a property in Searle Place, off Evershot Road, Finsbury Park, on Monday, after they were told a body may have been buried there for 30 years.
Police stressed the claims do not relate to the current occupiers of the property. The man who lived at the house at that time – believed to be of Irish descent – is thought to have died recently.
One neighbour who knew the deceased said she understood he had written a letter to be sent to the new occupiers in the event of his death, although police this week said that had not formed the basis of the case.
Following the tip-off in July last year, police launched an investigation at home and in Ireland and are thought to have taken soil samples from Searle Place, before starting to dig up the garden this week.
Jenny Salcedo, who was visiting her mother-in-law in a neighbouring property when the police showed up on Monday, said: “It was about 8am and we were having breakfast when we heard all this commotion outside.
“We looked outside and saw all the police putting up tents and so on.
“Obviously we didn’t know what was going on, but when we found out my mother-in-law got really worried. She is very nervous thinking about what might have happened here all those years ago, and who was living round here then.
“And to think there might be a body in one of those tents is horrible. I don’t think she wants to be alone in the house at the moment.”
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “I just hope it’s all a hoax and not the real thing.”
Islington Borough Commander Det Ch Supt Gerry Campbell said: “Detectives in Islington have carried out a thorough investigation in order to corroborate the allegations made.
“After examining all the information the investigation has produced and with careful consideration, I have made the decision that it is appropriate to excavate the garden.
“Until the conclusion of the search it would be inappropriate of me to comment further”.
It is not known at this stage exactly how long the excavation will take but Det Ch Supt Campbell said he expected the search to be concluded by the end of this week.