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Richard Okorogheye: Two Met Police staff given misconduct notices over disappearance of teenager

Written by on 9 July 2021

Two members of the Metropolitan Police have been served misconduct notices over potential failings in the disappearance of teenager Richard Okorogheye, the police watchdog has told Sky News.

The 19-year-old student, who had sickle cell disease and was shielding during the pandemic, went missing after leaving his family home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of 22 March.

His body was found in a lake in Epping Forest on 5 April. Police are yet to determine a cause of death.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating how the Oxford Brookes University student’s disappearance was initially handled, following complaints made by his mother, Evidence Joel.

New CCTV image of Richard Okorogheye, who went missing from south London. Pic: Met Police Image: CCTV image of Mr Okorogheye after he left his home

At the time, Ms Joel told Sky News that she believed she was not taken seriously by officers because of her race.

In a statement to Sky News, an IOPC spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have served misconduct notices on two members of Metropolitan Police Service staff as there is an indication that they may have failed to pass on new and relevant information relating to Richard Okorogheye to the team responsible for conducting missing person assessments.

“The serving of misconduct notices does not mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.”

Ms Joel contacted police the day after her son vanished, but he was not officially recorded as missing until 8am on 24 March.

She described the latest development as “encouraging”.

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April: Richard Okorogheye’s mother says the Met Police treated her as a ‘lunatic’ when she reported her son missing

In a statement issued via her lawyers, Ms Joel said: “It is encouraging to hear that they are doing something because I kept calling and at one point, a police officer told me to stop.

“Whenever I have talked about how I was treated and how slow the police response was, some people could have thought I was exaggerating.

“I know that the investigation is at [the] early stages and I don’t have details of the misconduct proceedings, but this news still provides some vindication of what I said all along about how slow the police were to act.”

The investigation is due to last between six and nine months, she added.

The search for missing student Richard Okorogheye has now moved to Epping Forest. Pic: Metropolitan Police Image: Officers are seen searching Epping Forest. Pic: Met Police

After leaving his home, Mr Okorogheye took a taxi from the W2 area of London to a street in Loughton, Essex and was last seen there on CCTV, walking alone towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on 23 March.

The teenager’s body was found approximately two miles from where he was spotted, without his shoes, bag and mobile phone.

Despite an extensive police search of the area, the objects have still not been found.

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