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Stefan's family want exhumation

By David G Scott

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SIX years after Stefan Sutherland's body was discovered in Occumster Bay near Lybster his grieving family is calling for his body to be exhumed.

Members of the family believe the 25-year-old was murdered around September 6, 2013, after he was seen entering a house in Shelligoe Road, Lybster.

Detectives found no suspicious circumstances after the body was discovered on the shoreline near his home at Occumster but Stefan’s family are convinced he was the victim of foul play and have been pressing for police to reopen their investigation.

Stefan Sutherland's body was found on the shore near Occumster six years ago.
Stefan Sutherland's body was found on the shore near Occumster six years ago.

Relatives are now pushing for his body to be exhumed to "prove he was murdered", a national newspaper reported today. However, it said they feel that an offer by police to review investigations could lead to a whitewash. They are reported to have stated that “a new and competent investigation” by independent officers would be all that was acceptable.

Stefan was last seen going into a house in Lybster and only the man who lived there claimed to have seen him leaving.

When the body appeared on the Occumster shoreline 11 days later there were signs, say family members, that Stefan was brutally beaten before he died. A post-mortem examination showed he had not drowned and his body was so decomposed it suggested he was dead upon entering the water.

Blood spots found at the house he visited were DNA anaylsed and proven to be Stefan’s.

In a recent meeting with Det Supt Colin Carey the family demanded the right to "instruct an independent pathologist to examine Stefan’s remains", according to the national newspaper article, and assess the injuries they believe will point to murder.

Stefan's disappearance sparked a major search when more than 40 people helped police and coastguards comb ground between Occumster and Lybster. His body was found by a member of the public on the shore near his home at The Moorings, Occumster.

Four months after his death, police carried out forensic investigations at the house in Shelligoe Road. Since the tragedy, Stefan’s family have been compiling evidence in their campaign for the truth which includes the presence of injuries which they claim are more likely to have been caused by him being attacked rather than falling down a cliff.

Speaking to the Caithness Courier in 2016, Stefan’s sister Katrina Sutherland said: “The family are looking for answers and if it can lead to a murder trial then so be it. We want to find out how Stefan died, when he died and why he died.

“We will never believe it was an accident, we do believe foul play could be involved and we do not believe it was suicide."

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