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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 11:23 GMT
'This wasn't any blood - this was my dad'
Crime scene

By Jon Kelly
BBC News

As if the trauma of a loved one being murdered was not enough, some families are forced to clean up the crime scene themselves. A new campaign seeks to spare them this horror.

Two-and-a-half weeks after her father's kitchen was drenched in his blood Carla McIntyre realised she and her family were on their own. No-one else was going to clean it for them.

Michael Mosey - a 57-year-old widower, grandfather of five and former policeman - had been bludgeoned with his own baton. He died in hospital 10 days after the attack.

But his family could not even begin to grieve. The police and insurance company would not help, says Ms McIntyre. The cost of having such a scene professionally cleaned was way beyond the family's means.

Carla McIntyre
This wasn't just any blood. This was my dad
Carla McIntyre

Ms McIntyre, her twin sister, and brother, had no option but to get down on their knees and scrub their dead father's blood.

"The blood was wall-to-wall, ceiling to floor," Carla, now 29, recalls. "There wasn't an inch of the wall that wasn't covered in bloody handprints. Horror movies don't even come close. There were flies buzzing around. The smell was indescribable. It would catch you at the back of the throat.

"When I went down to scrub the floor I was crying. All that happened when I added water to the blood was that it diluted and spread. We were covered from head to toe. This wasn't just any blood. This was my dad.

"I had to shut down emotionally to get through it. I became blank. I didn't cry at the funeral. It was a year before I could feel anything."

Mr Mosey, who lived in Lanark, Lanarkshire, had been attacked in August 2006 by 33-year-old John Mackie, who had just been released from prison. Mackie was jailed for life for the murder, although his sentence was reduced on appeal.

Clear-up fund

The task of clearing up such a crime scene is chilling, but loopholes of accountability mean it could, in theory, happen to any family in the UK.

Michael Mosey
Michael Mosey died 10 days after the ferocious assault
"It beggars belief that we can allow this to happen," says David Hines of the North of England Victims Association, which lent assistance to Mr Mosey's family. "Any decent person would surely agree that deeply traumatised people shouldn't have to do this."

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign to set up a fund to pay for cleaners so that those closest to victims do not have to take on such burdens themselves. The party says 20 to 30 families a year have to pay to have their homes cleaned after a murder - or do it themselves.

Home Office guidelines do not require police forces to take responsibility for cleaning up crime scenes after evidence has been taken, a spokeswoman confirmed. Most chief constables do so as a matter of course - but there is no legal requirement.

Sometimes an insurer will pick up the bill. But in the case of Mr Mosey, his insurer declined, saying he had not taken out buildings and contents insurance. The firm could not be convinced otherwise, even when two of its loss adjusters vomited after viewing the kitchen.

Seeping-up

However, months later, it accepted he had been insured and paid out 5,000, says Ms McIntyre. But by then the family had long ago been forced to tackle the bloodbath themselves.

But even then it came back to haunt them. After new lino was laid in the kitchen, blood seeped through the floorboards, ruining the new surface.

Carla says the experience hit her and her family hard. She was too traumatised to work for over a year after the killing. She suffered a panic attack while shopping in her local supermarket when red dye seeped from a bag onto her hands.

Now, she hopes that other families will not have to go through the same experience as a result of the latest campaign.

"I read the other day that in Texas, killers have to meet the cost of clearing up the scenes of their crimes," she says. "That sounds fair to me. That sounds like justice. No-one should have to go through what my family did."


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