Tragic death of Chesterfield dad highlighted in national report

The late Russell Cowan.
The late Russell Cowan.

The tragic case of a Chesterfield father who may have been pushed to his death in Italy has been highlighted in a national report.

Dame Vera Baird's study, Struggling for Justice, calls for more support for relatives of Britons who have died in suspected homicides overseas and makes 17 recommendations to the Government for improvement.

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The report includes the experiences of Trudy Cowan, whose husband Russell died in 2016.

An inquest heard how businessman Mr Cowan, 44, of Manor Road, Brimington, died of 'catastrophic' head injuries after a 'precipitous descent from height' while he was in the Italian town of Menaggio for a charity car rally.

The UK inquest could not rule out third party involvement.

In her report, Dame Baird said: "Trudy would have expected more support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in terms of communication and information, help with travel arrangements and help from the British police to pursue an investigation into her husband's death."

Ms Cowan said: "Russell was a British citizen and an RAF veteran who won medals - but regardless of that you would expect the country he loved and worked for would have supported him and his family at a time when they needed it most.

"They have turned their backs on us, that's how I feel."

Between 60 and 90 UK citizens die in suspicious circumstances overseas every year.

An spokesperson for the FCO said: "Last year we helped more than 22,000 British people overseas.

"We will look at what more we can do, including implementing many of these recommendations.

"We also recently conducted our own review of the support we provide and will set out our proposals shortly."

Earlier this year, an Italian judge ruled that Mr Cowan's death was an accident and closed the file.

An appeal against that ruling will be heard next month.

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