The family of a man who was found seriously injured at the bottom of a stairwell in Plymouth have launched an appeal after they say questions still remain over how he died.
The father and sister of Dale Normington, who died in December 2009 after he was found suffering serious head injuries in Devonport, say they have been fighting for justice since his death, which was at one stage treated as murder.
They have now launched an appeal for more information which they hope will put the case to rest.
Laurissa Stanbury, Dale’s sister, said Dale’s paternal family have tried everything to get his case reinvestigated, but with no success.
They now question parts of the police investigation and the inquest’s findings.
She said: “A lot of what happened with Dale’s case has never made sense. No explanation for anything was ever given.
“For the last six years my father and I have been fighting for answers.
“The last six years have been nothing but agony for my family, and as the years carry on we are all still stuck in limbo.”
Laurissa revealed that her side of Dale’s family – Colin Stanbury was Dale’s natural father – were explicitly told by the police not to speak to the media during their inquiry, instead leaving all media contact to be made by either senior detectives or Dale’s mother, Sandie Normington.
But now Laurissa said they will no longer remain silent and have gone public with their questions.
Laurissa claims she has since learned of what the family believes is another set of “inquest” dates, held on September 21 and 22 in 2009, just a few days ahead of the public inquest heard on September 25.
The Stanbury family say they were invited to a meeting at Crownhill police station the evening before the inquest where they were finally told the verdict would be “accident”, as opposed to an “open verdict”.
Colin said: “The day before the inquest we were told it would be accidental death, not an open verdict. But no-one could prove that he fell.”
The family also questioned why police said Dale died suffering injuries to the back of his head, suggesting he had fallen backwards down the stairwell of the flats in Albert Road.
Laurissa said Dale’s injuries actually included abrasions to the right side of his head, above his ear, cuts to the front of his left ear lobe, an abrasion above his right eyebrow, a 1cm cut over the bridge of his nose, a cut to his shin, part of a front tooth missing, two sets of grazed knuckles and two black eyes. She said there were more than a dozen people who saw these injuries, including medical staff. However, at Dale’s inquest police said his injuries were not consistent with an attack.
Among the family’s questions were why was there no blood at the stairwell when there was blood all down the front of his shirt and on a woman’s jacket.
Laurissa said there was never any explanation for how the woman’s jacket – taken from The Clipper Inn in Union Street – had ended up in Dale’s possession, nor how Dale had travelled from the Barbican to Devonport.
The inquest also saw police reject claims by an alleged witness as those made by “a fantasist who led this enquiry down the wrong path”.
Laurissa has now revealed that the family name of “Stanbury” led to strange responses from police, after senior detectives claimed a witness saw Dale holding a piece of paper with the name on it. Laurissa and her father feel it may be linked to an ongoing family hunt of missing trust funds and jewellery left to the family by a deceased grandmother.
Colin said: “Dale’s wallet has never been found, nor has a silver ring which he wore.
“This has been an ongoing thing for our family. There’s years of things that we’ve recorded and put down on paper about what’s happened.
“Some of it is surreal. We ask questions but can’t get any answers.”
Laurissa said one particularly odd incident included an unannounced visit to Colin’s home by an officer involved in the case.
She said he arrived and was seen to be wearing a handgun holstered under his jacket. He stayed for around two hours, but on receiving a phone call, left shortly after.
Colin said: “It absolutely stinks. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. We’ve got to get answers.”
The Stanbury family have now launched a website – www.justicefordale.co.uk – which gives details of the family’s hunt for information. It includes numerous documents as well as everything the family experienced during the investigation and after the inquest finished.
They have also posted what they believe is new evidence surrounding Dale’s death.
Laurissa said: “We all still think that Dale was murdered – murdered by someone close to him, someone that he knew and trusted”.
The family have urged anyone with information regarding the death of Dale Normington to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Devon and Cornwall Police were contacted for comment who said they were unable to comment on the Stanbury family’s claims.