There have been various reports in the media, both on TV and the printed press regarding a body found in a tent near Weston-Super-Mare in August 2017. It was not identified until recently as that of Peter Harrison, from Birmingham.
He was dubbed Mr Sad by the media due to his body not being identified, but this would not have been a problem had the West Midlands police not acted in a half-hearted way to help identify him.
Beside the body, Avon & Somerset Police found a birth certificate and driving licence, which would have given some idea to his identity. Then, when the West Midlands Police investigated, they would have been able to find the family and performed DNA testing, thus giving the answer and enabling the family to be notified.
This is not what happened though. Instead, the West Midlands Police went to an address and, upon seeing that it no longer existed, having been demolished 40 years ago, decided to close the case after just two weeks. This would have been of absolutely no use though, as Peter Harrison had not lived at this address since the age of 9. They knew that the body which had been found, was aged between 59 and 60 when he died.
The family have not only had to deal with the death of a beloved family member who, far from being Mr Sad was in fact somebody who was the life of the party, having worked in the past as a DJ and was always playing jokes on family members. The family also had to deal with the media saying that it was disgusting that they had not come forward earlier. This, after the media had all the facts, that the family had no idea he was missing.
Having spoken to Michelle, his niece, it is obvious that this is a loving family which is having to deal with a great loss, and the dark media reporting in addition.
Michelle has said that she would like to thank the person who found Peter’s body, adding “We would also like to thank Somerset police but wish they had appealed sooner through the media. We understand why they didn’t as they didn’t want to upset our family, but we are all upset anyway as this was never going to be easy, in fact it’s just even harder and at least we could have laid him to rest sooner, he then would not have been given the name Mr Sad.“
Peter Harrison loved Somerset, and this was why he decided to travel around. His travelling took him away from those he knew in Birmingham, which is why they did not realise that he was missing, but he had always intended to return to them.
The media like to give people names, as they see it as a way to make a story more interesting and, at times, it can sell more newspapers. However, we should always remember that there are always more people involved than those we hear about in a news report. In the case of Peter Harrison, he left behind a daughter, 4 sisters, a brother and many nieces and nephews, who all loved him.