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The mysterious death of WWII veteran Benjamin Benit

Posted on: Thursday, August 11, 2011

Latest: The dead man found in Peckham, south London, last month has been identified as WWII veteran Benjamin Benit.

Mr Benit would have been 86 on the date his body was discovered but is thought to have been dead for several years. He served in the RAF and claimed to have played for Millwall football club.

 

Timeline:

From BBC Online on August 11:

The skeletal remains of a man wearing a suit have been found in south-east London, the Metropolitan Police said.

Officers believe the body, which was found in Lovelinch Close in Peckham on Wednesday, had been placed there sometime in the last week.

The victim is a 5ft tall white man and his death is currently being treated as unexplained by the Met. The body was found outside in the close.

A man who found the body said it was tied up in a brown windsurfing bag.

A Met police spokesman said:

We believe that the skeletal remains were placed sometime between 2pm on Friday August 5 and the early hours of August 10.

The remains are of a white male, believed to be five feet tall. He was wearing a suit.

At this extremely early stage this is not believed linked to recent disorder.'

UPDATE: On August 15, the Met Police released this statement - which said the man was not wearing a suit as originally reported:

Police continue to appeal for information following the discovery of a body in Peckham.

Police were called at 07.45hrs on Wednesday 10 August to Lovelinch Close SE15 re a body found behind bushes in the street - it was found by a woman walking her dog.

We have yet to identify the dead man and ask anyone who may be able to assist in naming him to come forward.

The deceased is believed to be white, and is thought to be at least 70 years old, and about 5ft 4 tall. He had a long grey beard, grey hair and long fingernails.

He was wearing dark coloured trousers and a light t-shirt which had 'England 2002 World Cup Campaign' on the left chest and a large St George's cross on the back.

There was also a dark coloured suit jacket with the body, but the deceased was not wearing it.

Detective Inspector Graeme Gwyn, Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: “We know that the man had been dead for at least six months and we believe his remains were placed in Lovelinch Close sometime between 14:00hrs on Friday 5 August and the early hours of Wednesday 10 August; as a tree surgeon pruned trees at the location on Friday 5 August between 13:00 and 14:00hrs and wood chippings were underneath the body when it was discovered.”

A post-mortem held (11 August) at Greenwich mortuary proved inconclusive and we await the results of further tests. The death is treated as unexplained at present

Anyone with information should call incident room on 020 8721 4805; if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

There has been no arrest at this time.

UPDATE (24/8): Detectives have arrested a man in his 70s in connection with the investigation. Further human remains, thought to be from the same body, have been found at an address in Ilderton Road, Peckham. Officers say they believe they know the identity of the deceased but have yet to trace next of kin.

This is the Met statement in full:

Police investigating the discovery of a body in Peckham earlier this month have arrested a man in connection with their inquiries.

The man, who is in his 70s, remains in custody at a south London police station.

The arrest follows the discovery of a body in open space in Peckham earlier this month and further human remains found at a nearby address yesterday (23 August).

Police were initially called after the body of an elderly man was discovered by a member of the public at 07.45hrs on Wednesday, 10 August, behind bushes in Lovelinch Close, SE15. It is believed he had been dead for at least six months.

Officers from the Met’s Serious and Homicide Command have been making inquiries to identify the deceased man, and in relation to the circumstances surrounding his death and how his body came to be in open space in Lovelinch Close.

They now believe they know the identity of the man but have yet to trace next of kin or to formally identify him.

The deceased is believed to have been in his 80s, about approximately five ft four inches tall, with a long grey beard and long fingernails. He was wearing dark coloured trousers and a light T-shirt which had England 2002 World Cup Champion on the left of the chest and a St George’s Cross on the back.

A post mortem examination of the body was inconclusive and further tests are taking place to ascertain the cause of death, which is being treated as unexplained and suspicious at this time.

At 11.25hrs on Tuesday, 23 August, police were called to a residential address in Ilderton Road, SE15, after council staff had attended the property and found what was believed to be human remains.

Officers attended the property and have confirmed they are human remains. Detectives now believe the remains are from the same body that was discovered in Lovelinch Close, which is approximately 400 metres away from the property. Forensic examinations at the address are under way.

A man was arrested at the address yesterday (Tuesday, 23 August) in connection with the discovery of the remains. He was taken to a south London police station were he remains in custody.

Detective Chief Inspector Damian Allain, from the Met’s Serious and Homicide Command, is leading the investigation.

He has confirmed that the human remains found on 23 August have been formally linked to the body discovered in Lovelinch Close on 10 August.

DCI Allain said: “We know the man had been dead for at six months. We believe his remains were placed in Lovelinch Close between 14:00hrs on Friday 5 August and the early hours of Wednesday 10 August as a tree surgeon had pruned trees at the location between 13:00 and 14:00hrs on Friday 5 August and wood chippings were underneath the body when it was discovered early in the morning of 10 August.

“I am appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious between 5 August and the time the body was discovered or who has any other information that may assist us to come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Incident Room on 020 8721 4805, or if they wish to remain anonymous Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.  

UPDATE 25/8: The arrested man has now been bailed until September 'pending further enquiries'.

UPDATE 8/9: The deceased has been identified as Benjamin Benit. He would have been 86 on the date his body was discovered but is thought to have been dead for several years. He served in the RAF during the war and claimed to have played for Millwall football club.

The Met statement:

A body found in Lovelinch Close, Peckham has been formally identified as Benjamin Benit (6.06.25) of Hevesham House, Ilderton Road, SE15.

Mr Benit's skeletal remains were discovered by a dog walker at about 07:45hrs on Wednesday 10 August.

On Tuesday 23 August council workers also found human remains inside his home address. Officers are also satisfied that the remains are from Mr Benit's body.

Mr Benit had not been seen for a number of years and officers believe he may have died some years before his body was moved to Lovelinch Close in August.

Wood chippings found under the remains in Lovelinch Close suggest that Mr Benit was placed there between 14:00hrs on Friday 5 August and the early hours of Wednesday 10 August, as a tree surgeon had pruned trees at the location between 13:00 and 14:00hrs on Friday 5 August.

Detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command continue to make enquiries to establish the circumstances around Mr Benit's death and are keen to speak to anyone who may have known him.

A post-mortem at Greenwich mortuary proved inconclusive.

The death is being treated as unexplained and suspicious at this time.

Detective Chief Inspector Damian Allain, said: "I would appeal to anyone who knew Benjamin Benit and can help us to piece together his lifestyle to contact me.

"We know he was born in Southwark and served in the RAF during the war. He later spent time living in Bradford where he had a family.

"He returned to the Southwark area in the early 1980s and drank in pubs in and around the Old Kent Road and New Cross Road. He often told people he played for Millwall Football Club, possibly as a goalkeeper after the war.

"I am also very keen to speak to anyone who may have seen a person(s) acting suspiciously whilst moving Mr Benit's body, which was wrapped in a sheet, to Lovelinch Close.

"It is really important to get in touch if you have information and can help."

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 020 8721 4805; if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

UPDATE (September 14, 2012): The inquest into Benjamin Benit's death returns an open verdict. It is revealed that he most likely died in 2002 and a fraudster continued to claim Mr Benit's pension up until after the body was discovered.

Body of RAF hero lay undiscovered in council flat for nine years - Mail Online

 




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