Body of Sussex man Piers Hopson repatriated after two year delay

Piers Hopson Piers Hopson was last seen since leaving his care home in St Leonards, East Sussex

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The body of a Sussex man, whose remains were identified two years after being found, has been returned to the UK.

Piers Hopson, 35, disappeared in January 2010 from his St Leonards care home and his body was discovered by a French trawler eight months later.

It took until April 2012 for his remains to be identified despite a DNA profile being taken 12 months before.

His body was repatriated from France on Monday and his parents are now planning his funeral and thanksgiving service.

'Complete nightmare'

The couple, from Crowborough, have also asked their MP Charles Hendry to investigate the delay in the DNA profile being sent to Sussex Police by the French authorities.

Mrs Hopson said of her son's body being returned: "It is the end of a complete nightmare.

Timeline of events from Sussex Police

  • Piers Hopson is last seen leaving his care home in St Leonards, East Sussex, on 25 January 2010
  • Skeletal remains are found on 10 September 2010 by the French trawler Sancta Maria nine miles south of Newhaven, 30 miles along the coast from St Leonards
  • The vessel returns home that day and reports the find to the French police
  • Two weeks later French police contact the Maritime Coastguard Agency
  • Details are passed to the Hampshire Constabulary Marine Unit four months later
  • The International Liaison Enquiry Team (ILET) are then informed
  • In January 2011, ILET liaises with the National Missing Persons Bureau (NMPB), and asks whether DNA could be obtained from the remains
  • A DNA profile arrives from France via Interpol on 27 April 2012, which is then sent to the NMPB
  • Sussex Police are notified on 25 June 2012 that the profile matches Piers Hopson

"Now we know he is not suffering, now we know he is not somewhere where he doesn't want to be, now we know that nothing can hurt him we can actually move forward."

The family are planning a private funeral followed by a thanksgiving service on 31 July at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Crowborough.

Mr Hopson went missing after saying he was going for a walk.

The last sighting of him was in Rock-a-Nore Road on Hastings seafront.

The French boat found his body off the coast of Newhaven and a DNA profile was taken in April 2011 but not sent to the UK for another 12 months.

During that time, his parents still hoped that he would be found alive and intensive searches were carried out by police, his family and volunteer teams.

A £10,000 reward for information was offered and a televised appeal was made.

His parents also visited Tunbridge Wells railway station in Kent every day for two weeks in the hope that he would arrive there by train, as he did when he visited their home.

Mrs Hopson said: "It is not the solution we wanted, we really hoped and believed we would get him back alive but that wasn't to be."

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