x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Police focus on UAE to identify mystery man

Scientific analysis on a man whose body washed ashore on an island between England and France say new testing has led them to narrow their search to the Gulf region and Somalia.

The unidentified man is believed to be in his 30s. He was found washed up on a beach in Jersey, at a location called Havre des Pas, in February 2008.
The unidentified man is believed to be in his 30s. He was found washed up on a beach in Jersey, at a location called Havre des Pas, in February 2008.

A mystery man whose body was washed ashore on an island beach more than 5,000 kilometres away may have lived in the UAE.

The remains, believed to be of a man in his thirties, were found on the Channel island of Jersey, between England and France, nearly three years ago. After local investigations, forensic testing and reconstruction of his facial features, the States of Jersey police have launched an international appeal to establish his identity.

They are concentrating on the UAE, Oman, Yemen and Somalia.

"This is an unusual case. We are very keen to get this man's body back to his family, if he has a family, and to his homeland to ensure that he is finally laid to rest," said Detective Inspector Chris Beechey, who heads the Jersey police criminal investigations department. "We know from extensive work that he does not appear to have any local connection other than that he was found in Jersey."

The body was washed up on a stretch of beach in the Havre des Pas area of the island on February 21, 2008. It drifted ashore from the English Channel but may have come from as far away as the coast of Brittany in north-west France.

After extensive local inquiries, Jersey police concluded that the body did not match any missing persons within their jurisdiction. Inquiries with Interpol and the UK Missing Persons Bureau led nowhere.

Forensic investigation revealed that the man had lived in a very hot, coastal, near-equatorial climate zone such as that in the Horn of Africa and southern parts of the Arabian peninsula.

He was estimated to have been around 1.78 metres (5ft 11in) tall and had a beard. He was wearing several layers of clothing, including a beige-coloured fleece with a Tommy Sports logo on the chest, which the Tommy Hilfiger brand confirmed was not genuine.

The cause of his death has not been determined.

As part of the investigation, called Operation Cobra, forensic anthropologists at the University of Dundee in Scotland developed a reconstruction of how the man may have looked using CT scans of his head and neck.

"The shape and nature of the skull image led the team to the conclusion that the man was likely to be of Caucasoid-type ancestry," Mr Beechey said. "He is likely to have been white European, Asian, Middle Eastern or North African in origin. It was not possible to determine what his head hair would have been like."

Analysis of samples taken from his chest hair, teeth, nails and bone tissue indicated that the man had lived in a "hot and arid climate", probably from around the age of eight. The most likely places have been identified as somewhere in the Horn of Africa, Yemen, Oman or the UAE.

Analysis of the remains also indicated that the man had had a good diet for most of his life, but that it deteriorated in the 18 months before his death.

"We hope that by making this appeal, now that we have made all the inquiries we can, someone recognises the man and can contact us so he can be laid to rest properly and with dignity," Mr Beechey said.

He asked that anyone with information about the man's identity contact the Jersey police criminal investigations department at OperationCobra

 

zconstantine@thenational.ae