‘Why weren’t we told he was dead?’

Dave Mills
Dave Mills

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A FAMILY have told of their heartbreak after they were not informed that their beloved grandfather was dead for more than a month.

Dave Mills was found slumped under a bush in Victoria Park on June 2.

Though police identified the 65-year-old, of Fratton Road, Fratton, Portsmouth, after taking fingerprints, there was a mix-up which meant they couldn’t find his loved ones.

It wasn’t until two days after a neighbour called to say he was missing on Sunday, July 14, that officers made the connection and told Mr Mills’ wife Jennifer the news.

They said Mr Mills – who the family say had left to go on a drinking binge six weeks before he was found – had already been buried at Milton Cemetery.

When his body was found, the only possession he had on him was a bank savings book.

Mrs Mills, 62, who was married to David for 21 years, said: ‘When the police told me what happened I just felt numb.

‘I didn’t know what to say. I felt completely lost and alone. We just thought he was staying with friends – he had gone off so many times before.

‘This time it was getting longer and longer and no-one had heard from him.

‘I can’t understand why the police couldn’t have got in touch with us any sooner.’

Mrs Mills received a letter from HM Revenue & Customs in June to say her husband had died – but she thought it must have been a mistake.

Mr Mills’ stepdaughter Tracy Clements, 43, said: ‘I don’t agree with what’s happened.

‘We all feel angry and I feel lost for words. We want answers but it seems like we’re not getting anywhere.’

Mr Mills leaves 11 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

The family also want to know what happened to the wedding ring, signet ring and gold chain Mr Mills was wearing the day he disappeared.

Hampshire Constabulary is now reviewing what happened with HM Coroner.

A police spokesman said: ‘We received a report of concerns for a man’s welfare in Victoria Park, Anglesea Road, Portsmouth on the morning of Sunday, June 2.

‘He was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

‘The deceased man was identified through fingerprints as 65-year-old David Mills.

‘On Sunday, July 14, police received a missing person report regarding David Mills.

‘This call provided further information that enabled police to contact Mr Mills’s next-of-kin.

‘Police recognise the distress this has caused Mr Mills’ family.’

FAMILY members have paid fond tribute to Dave Mills.

His granddaughter Carly Rose, 24, who lives in Sedgeley Close, Somers Town, Portsmouth, said: ‘He liked a drink but he didn’t like to show it in front of the family.

‘He was an absolutely lovely person.

‘He always brought a light into the room.

‘My last memory of my grandfather was watching him play with my daughter Tayla, two, and her pink scooter.’

Mr Mills, who was originally from Rochdale, was a former security guard at Gunwharf Quays.