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Richard Okorogheye: Mother ‘disappointed’ by police when reporting son missing

Joanna Taylor
·2 min read
 (PA)
(PA)

The mother of Richard Okorogheye has said that she was “disappointed” by the Metropolitan Police’s initial handling of her son’s case after she reported him missing.

The 19-year-old left his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of 22 March. He was found dead in a pond in Epping Forest, Essex, two weeks later.

Police say that they first received a call about Mr Okorogheye’s disappearance on 23 March, but did not officially record him missing until 8am the following day after “an initial assessment and careful consideration of the information available”.

Mr Okorogheye’s mother, Evidence Joel, said: “I am disappointed with the initial response by police when I reported Richard missing.”

She added that she has been pleased with the police response since.

“The following week, I could see that the police were actively searching for Richard and the investigation was picking up. Since then, I am very pleased with the way police have been working,” she said.

“I would like to thank the family liaison officers for being thorough, honest and open with us throughout the investigation. We hope to get closure on what happened to Richard.”

Police say that a referral has been made to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, but added that this is a “matter of routine”.

Ms Joel has criticised the police’s initial response to her son’s case before.

She said that police appeared to be “counting the minutes” she was on the phone to them after she rang for updates after reporting Mr Okorogheye missing.

She also questioned how well they understood sickle cell disease – her son’s health condition, which can be extremely painful – after they tried to reassure her he would “find his way to hospital” if needed.

Ms Joel, a nurse, said: “I will not treat anyone like that that comes into my care. I will give you the full support.”

She also told Sky News that an officer told her “if you can’t find your son, how do you expect police officers to find your son for you” after she appealed for help in March.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said the force “is committed to providing the best possible service to families of missing people”.

These families “should always be treated with respect and dignity by officers, and have confidence that officers will make every effort to investigate the circumstances of the disappearance with a matter of urgency”, they said.

Police are treating Mr Okorogheye’s death as unexplained and do not believe at this stage that there was third-party involvement.

A post-mortem has been unable to establish a cause of death so far, but no evidence of assault or physical trauma has been found.

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