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Memorial service for man who was buried without a name

Memorial service for man buried without a name Photo: ITV Anglia

For almost a quarter of a century, nobody knew the identity of a man washed up on a Norfolk beach and buried in a local cemetery.

But thanks to advances in DNA technology, the police were eventually able to identify him. As a result, a fresh inquest could be held. Today, relatives from Lincolnshire attended a special memorial service for him.

Michael Sutherland identified 23 years after he died Credit: ITV Anglia.

Today Ann Stockton and her daughter Jane arrived at the Norfolk church where the funeral service for Ann's brother Michael was held in 1989.

Nobody had been able to identity the body washed up on Weybourne beach 23 years ago. An unknown man was placed in an unmarked grave in the local cemetery.

Eventually he was identified because of DNA technology. His body was exhumed, a profile was taken from his teeth and today almost a quarter of a century later there was a proper memorial service for Michael Sutherland.

Michael's grave is now marked with his name Credit: ITV Anglia

The excellence of the police investigation today along witn the advances in forensic science has led us to Michael's resting place here in the village of Weybourne."

– Father Philip Blamire, Rector of Weybourne

Michael's sister offered thanks and gifts to Les and Jean Amis, the funeral directors who looked after Michael. He'd gone missing from his home in Cleethorpes. He'd had mental health issues and had attempted suicide, and when a relationship broke down he threw himself into the sea.

There was a handful of people from the village at the service. Also there, Nick Walpole, the police officer who'd achieved the breakthrough in the search for Michael.

Inevitably there was a sense of sadness for the family - but through it, Ann paid tribute to the people who made this day possible.