Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 18:59 UK

Murder case pathologist suspended

Dr Peter Acland
Dr Acland has 28 days to lodge and appeal

A Home Office pathologist has been suspended from police work for failing to spot a pensioner had been murdered.

A disciplinary tribunal heard Dr Peter Acland decided Mervyn Fletcher died as a result of a fall at his home near Walsall in the Black Country in 2004.

A man was later jailed for murder after admitting using bank cards belonging to Mr Fletcher weeks after his death.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) tribunal accepted 19 of 21 charges against Dr Acland.

Head injuries

Mr Fletcher, a diabetic, was beaten to death in his back garden in Willenhall and was found collapsed in a pool of blood with his wallet missing.

He had suffered numerous injuries including a fractured skull and broken ribs, the hearing had earlier been told.

An initial post-mortem examination stated he died as a result of head injuries which were at the time believed to have been caused by a diabetes-induced fall.

But weeks after Mr Fletcher's death, police found money was still being withdrawn from his bank account, with a man they later arrested, Mustafa Abdullah, admitting to using the cards.

He was convicted at Wolverhampton Crown Court of murdering the pensioner in March 2007.

Appeal period

Dr Acland had carried out a second post-mortem examination following Mr Fletcher's death.

He concluded that some injuries were consistent with a heavy fall but said there was no convincing evidence of a direct assault, although it could not be discounted, the tribunal heard.

This resulted in Mr Fletcher's body being exhumed and undergoing a third post-mortem examination, the tribunal was told in February.

In a statement, the NPIA said Dr Acland has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal and if he does, will remain suspended until the outcome.

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