Tyne & Wear

Remains of fall death man Christopher Rochester exhumed

The body of a County Durham man who died on the Greek island of Rhodes 11 years ago has been exhumed in a bid to settle a row over a missing organ.

Christopher Rochester, 24, died in a fall from a balcony but he was missing a kidney when his body was flown home.

An organ that was later sent out failed a DNA match and Greek authorities have demanded further samples from the body.

A forensic team from Durham Police led the exhumation at Ropery Lane Cemetery in Chester-le-Street earlier.

A Greek doctor was convicted in 2008 of neglecting Mr Rochester during his treatment in hospital.

'Nowhere to hide'

Mr Rochester's mother and stepfather, Pam and George Cummings, have campaigned for many years for a criminal investigation over the kidney mix-up.

Mr Cummings said: "This is something we very much wanted to avoid. We believed that DNA from Christopher's mother would be enough to prove that the kidney they sent back wasn't Christopher's.

"But sadly the Greek authorities stood by their request for Christoper's body to be exhumed and to extract DNA from the source.

Image caption Mr Rochester died of internal bleeding at Andreas Papandreou hospital

"The Greeks have made it as difficult as possible for us from day one.

"But when the test results come back positive, as we expect them to, the Greek authorities will have nowhere left to hide."

North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who has campaigned on behalf of the family, added: "Chris fell off a balcony and survived.

"He had a small tear in one of the arteries going to his kidney which led to him bleeding to death over several hours in a Greek hospital.

"If action had been taken swiftly he would have survived.

"The kidney, which was important in determining how he died, was missing and was replaced with one that clearly wasn't Christopher's. This is a key point in proving that there was negligence."

DNA samples taken from Mr Rochester's remains will be sent to a laboratory in Belgium for independent analysis.

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