Mother of Richard Okorogheye meets Home Secretary over police response concerns

Police at the scene in Epping Forest
Police at the scene in Epping Forest (PA Wire)
12:09pm, Fri 28 May 2021
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The Home Secretary has met the mother of Richard Okorogheye to listen to her concerns over the police response to her son’s disappearance, lawyers have said.

The 19-year-old, who had sickle cell disease, was last seen leaving his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of March 22.

His mother, Evidence Joel, contacted police the following day, but he was not officially recorded as missing until 8am on March 24.

Mr Okorogheye’s body was found in Epping Forest, Essex, on April 5.

Richard Okorogheye missing (PA Wire)

Law firm Birnberg Peirce, who represent the teenager’s family, said Ms Joel met Priti Patel on Thursday.

Ms Joel said in a statement released by lawyers: “My family and I are grateful to the Home Secretary for inviting us to meet with her today and for listening to our concerns about the Metropolitan Police’s response to Richard’s disappearance and the ongoing investigation into his death.

“We trust that these concerns will be passed to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that lessons will be learned, and that the police will conduct a full and fearless investigation which is not predicated on the assumption of suicide.

“We need to uncover the truth of what happened to Richard.”

Ms Patel said: “Richard’s death was a tragedy and my deepest sympathies remain with his family, especially his mother Evidence Joel. What she is going through is unimaginable and I am in awe of her strength.

“I remain in close contact with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner regarding this case.

“The Met’s investigation into Richard’s death remains ongoing and I will continue to follow developments closely.”

Richard Okorogheye missing (PA Media)

Lawyers said Mr Okorogheye’s family are waiting for toxicology and post-mortem reports following the discovery of his body in a lake in Epping Forest.

Ms Joel has previously said she was “disappointed” with how the Metropolitan Police initially handled her son’s case, as she spoke of her desire for “closure” following his death.

Last month, watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it will investigate Ms Joel’s complaints about the way she was initially treated by officers, and how her reports about her son’s disappearance were handled.

It will also look at the Metropolitan Police’s overall handling of the missing person report.

Mr Okorogheye left his family home at around 8.30pm on March 22 and headed in the direction of Ladbroke Grove.

Police previously said further inquiries established that he then took a taxi from the W2 area of London to a residential street in Loughton, Essex.

He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, walking alone on Smarts Lane towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on March 23.

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