Listen to great new podcast which aims to solve mystery of body found on Seaham beach

A new podcast which seeks to find answers to an unsolved case about an unidentified body on Seaham Beach launches today.

By Kelly Crichton
Friday, 13th May 2022, 10:01 am

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Testimony: The Body on Seaham Beach is a new two-part podcast which launches 16 years to the day since the events that took place following the discovery of human remains on the Featherbed Rocks.

On May 13, 2006, a man walking on the beach at Seaham made a shocking discovery of human remains.

On the podcast Fiona Thompson, who covered the story as a reporter for the Sunderland Echo at the time, takes listeners through the actions of police and others in the weeks, months and years that followed, in the exhaustive attempt to identify these remains.

Testimony: The Body On Seaham Beach launches on May 13.

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The podcast is a production of Laudable, the project involving National World plc and Reach plc, and will feature on the websites of the Sunderland Echo and NationalWorld.com, as well as all major podcast platforms.

Fiona takes listeners through what happened: “This case has stayed with me for the last 16 years. I had never seen anything like it before, or since for that matter.

“This body washed ashore at Featherbed Rocks and no-one knew who it was. Durham Constabulary set to work straight away and I stayed close to the investigation as they introduced amazing cutting edge science and technology to try to identify this unknown person.

“I got to know some of those involved in the case quite well, such as Cliff Down the Detective Sergeant and Neville Dixon, the Coroner’s Officer, and for all of us, this case has always stayed in the back of our minds. By making the podcast we wanted to explore everything that happened and ask the question if something was missed or if more could have been done.

Area Forensic Manager Suzanne Hitchison and Det Insp Kevin Langham.

“I still feel this case can be solved., Someone out there knows who this is. The podcast contains everything we know about this man and I hope that something will click with a listener and we can finally say who this person is and return them to their family.”

Retired Detective Sergeant Cliff Down was the lead police officer on the case and shares his memories about the only case he ever worked on not to reach a conclusion.

“It was the first time I’d ever gone to a body that had been recovered on the beach. There were a lot of inquiries to come which I had never done before and it was a big learning curve for me. Like most investigations we started with the basics, we needed to rule out foul play and see if this body matched any missing persons reports from ours and neighbouring forces areas. But after that we needed to start thinking more laterally, we had to use all the forensic evidence we had to try and identify this person.

“We ventured into areas of cutting edge scientific investigations that hadn’t been used before by the force, like Isotope analysis. We even undertook to create a full facial reconstruction too in the hope someone would recognise this person. No stone was left unturned but, this case still frustrates me to this day and I hope by contributing to the podcast we can reach someone who has information who can help answer some of the outstanding questions we have.”

Featherbed Rocks.

Coroner’s Officer Neville Dixon is another expert guest, who also features and explains how this particular case was so unusual.

Niall Benson of Durham Heritage Coast and DNA expert Dr Steven Darby from the University of Sunderland also feature on the series in order to tackle some of the outstanding questions relating to the case in the hope of finally giving a grieving family somewhere, some answers.

Testimony is a Laudable production for the Sunderland Echo and NationalWorld. Episode 1 will be available on all podcast platforms from Friday, May. Episode 2 will be available one week later. It is presented, produced and edited by Kelly Crichton.

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