Mystery over African death
8:10am Friday 5th October 2012 in News
Mystery still surrounds the death of a Budock medical student who died while working as a researcher in Africa in 2009.
Paul Monk, 24, was found in his room with cuts to his wrists and neck on a farm in Kenya.
Despite repeated attempts by British police and the coroner’s office in Truro, Kenyan police have failed to provide details of their investigation into the death, which they treated as suicide.
However, an inquest held in Truro last week heard how Paul had recently fled Uganda after an altercation with a man named ‘Arthur’ in a bar one evening which led to him being pursued for money by a solicitor.
After crossing the border into Kenya in February 2009, Paul went to stay on a farm where he had previously lodged on an earlier visit to the country.
During his time at the farm, he met a girl named Caroline in a local bar, and spent the night at her home.
However, during an argument the next day he was left with a bite mark on his back.
He was found dead in his room just days later, with a post mortem revealing the cause of death was a deep cut to the neck.
No details of any investigation into the death were forthcoming, with no details of whether the room was locked from the inside or outside, or whether the knife found in the room was ever tested for fingerprints.
The lack of evidence forced deputy coroner Andrew Cox to pass on open verdict on Paul’s death.
He said: “I know how frustrating it is for the police to have to present an incomplete file like this.
“However, there comes a point where you have to move forwards.
“I want there to be a view that we are not holding anything back, but it comes under the limitations that we have when investigating a death overseas.”
He added: “There were two people in Paul’s recent past who may have wanted to hurt him; Arthur and Caroline.
“The obvious concern is that one of them may have come to the farm to find him and to unlawfully kill him.
“However, to record that verdict, I have to be sure beyond all doubt that it was what happened, and we are nowhere near reaching that level of proof.”
Mr Cox also considered recording a verdict of suicide, but, despite saying he believed it was the probable cause of death, he could not be sure beyond all doubt. Thanking the police for their work on the case, Mr Cox recorded an open verdict.
Paul’s mum, Deborah Weatherall, said afterwards: “It is a relief that it’s over. I really believe that the British police have done the very best they could and have answered everything that was possible without the help of the Kenyan authorities.
“I have had to accept that there is no international agreement that makes police forces from different countries cooperate, you are simply relying on goodwill and common decency, but I have had to accept some of my questions will never be answered.
“I do not know if a third party was involved in Tom’s death, I have been back and forth so many times, and I still don’t know.”
She said she had been moved to see more than a dozen friends of Paul’s attend the hearing.
She added: “Paul lived in Falmouth all his life, and a lot of those people here today have been his friends since he started school at the age of four, and they have been loyal friends ever since.
“They were a lovely bunch of children, and now they have grown into a lovely group of adults.
“They have been incredibly supportive over the last three and a half years, they have always been in touch, have always been around and popping in to see us at the house.”