Serious case review launched over missing Plymouth man found dead in garden
A SERIOUS Case Review has been launched to discover why a vulnerable Plymouth man went missing and was later found dead in a Paignton garden.
Valan Anthony Pitts, also known as Cheng Somers, went missing on July 24 but his body was not found until August 22 in a garden on Winner Hill Road, Paignton.
Investigators were able to trace the last movements of Mr Somers, of Wyndham Square, through CCTV footage.
On July 24 at around 2.45pm he was seen entering a second-hand shop in Plymouth where he sold a laptop.
He was then seen on CCTV at Bretonside bus station at around 3.10pm and then at Paignton railway station at around 7.40pm.
He was reported missing by his family on July 31.
The Herald later learned that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had launched an investigation after it transpired that a member of the public had contacted the emergency services on July 25, before Mr Pitts was reported missing, stating they had seen a man taking tablets outside a property in Winner Street, Paignton.
However, paramedics were unable to find the person described.
The IPCC has now revealed that as part of its inquiry it has served notices of investigation on five call handlers involved in the call handling of the case on July 24 and 25.
It is also investigating how the police dealt with the missing person report made by Mr Somers' family on July 31 and complaints made by his family about the way their telephone calls to the police were handled.
Jim Gould, independent chair of the Plymouth Safeguarding Adults Board, has agreed to launch a Serious Case Review following a letter from the IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne. The review will ask whether lessons could be learnt from the case and will examine the way professionals and agencies worked together to safeguard vulnerable adults.
Commissioner Cerfontyne said: "It is clear that Mr Somers had mental health issues and he was very vulnerable. I am pleased the Safeguarding Adults Board has decided to set up a review and we will of course share our investigation findings with it.
"Our investigation into police actions has made significant progress but we still have a lot of work to do. I have also arranged for two independent external experts in mental health and diversity issues to assist our investigation.
"We have had several meetings with Mr Somers' family and continue to provide them with regular updates. I have also met with Plymouth and Devon Race Equality Council Co-director Ann Wilkinson.
"It is vital that the full circumstances of Mr Somers' tragic death are investigated, in order to provide answers to the many questions his family have, to ensure the decisions and actions of the police are scrutinised and they are held to account for any failings and that any lessons are learned by the police and other agencies."