Off the Map: The case of James Smith

On the morning of December 4, 2010, the body of 28 year-old James Smith was found at an electricity substation near Penge West railway station in south London.

The postmortem revealed he had been electrocuted. A murder investigation was launched by the British Transport Police and the incident was added to the murder map.

James Smith, 28, died after being electrocuted near a railway station in south London.

British Transport Police were called to Penge West at 5.32am on December 4, 2010, and discovered the victim trackside. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

They later arrested one man on suspicion of murder and four others on suspicion of manslaughter. All five have been bailed to return in January 2011.

Officers are investigating whether they were involved in stealing cable at the time of the incident. Detective Chief Inspector Alison Palmer, investigating officer for British Transport Police, said: “Post-mortem results suggest James’ injuries were consistent with electrocution and his family have been informed.

“We are currently keeping an open mind as to why James was in the area at the time of the incident and are keen to hear from anyone that can help us piece together the events leading up to and after his death.

“Our enquiries in the local area are continuing and an investigation to establish the exact circumstances is ongoing. If you think you have any information about the incident, no matter how insignificant it may seem, we want to hear from you.

“This was a tragic incident that has seen a man lose his life and which sadly highlights the dangers of going trackside. Our thoughts remain with James’ family at this very difficult time for them.”

Anyone with information can contact British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

original murdermap case summary

Seven months later it has been deleted. Why? Because it is no longer a homicide. Brothers John Tusting, 26, and Jason Tusting, 23, pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and criminal damage recklessly endangering life.

The three men broke into the substation to steal copper cable, which is now so valuable that Network Rail have reported a 300 per cent increase in thefts since 2004.

John Tusting had himself suffered severe burns trying to drag Mr Smith away – although he initially claimed he had been doused with petrol and set on fire by three men. He made a 999 call at 5.32am but misled police about the exact location.

The copper was sold the same morning for just £342.

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