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West Midlands Police have lost vital evidence from some of the regions most sickening unsolved murders, a former senior detective has claimed.
The unnamed ex-copper told BirminghamLive that one of the cases affected is that of the mysterious death of teenager Mark Billington.
The 15-year-old was found hanged in woodland 36 years ago, with his bicycle near by.
The anonymous retired officer believes the the blunder has prevented the murderer from being caught.
The former detective sergeant had no doubt from the off that Mark, discovered in Meriden woodland nine weeks after going missing on September 1, 1984, was murdered.
He said: "We in uniform – plods if you like – didn't believe for one minute we were dealing with a missing person.
"There was no reason for Mark to take his own life, he wasn't being bullied.
"A happy 15-year-old sets off on his bike to kill himself? It doesn't happen."
Mark's death was originally treated as suicide. However, in 2001 a senior detective told the press he believed Mark had not taken his own life.
The case was re-visited a year later following pressure from the ex officer before a murder inquiry was launched.
The 2002 cold case review was wrecked by the loss of vital evidence.
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Murder squad detectives publicly admitted a number of items had been disposed of, preventing DNA analysis.
It is also a fact that West Midlands Police lost items taken from the body of Barbara Forrest, found raped and murdered in Birmingham parkland 46 years ago.
The 20-year-old's killer has never been caught.
The long-serving detective, who has asked to remain anonymous, believes many other vital pieces of evidence stored at the force's Bournville Lane base were slung out during a sweeping, mid-90s re-organisation of the force.
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He stressed: "I have no axe to grind. I simply believe this is an issue that should be in the public domain."
It is, however, the brick wall officers faced in attempting to unravel the mystery of Mark Billington's death that rankles most.
A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: "Regarding Barbara Forrest, the items weren’t found.
"We informed the Sunday Mercury of this on December 6, 2012, after an officer spoke to her family the day before.
"Regarding Mark Billington, in 2003 we said, 'Mark Billington's death was originally treated as non suspicious for 18 years. Some items which would have been retained for a suspicious death inquiry were not retained in this case'.
"Clearly there is a finite amount of exhibits we are able to retain.
"The last review was carried out in 2018 and no further lines of enquiry were identified. It remains an unsolved case and subject to periodic review or review upon new intelligence or information."
- Missing Person
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