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The daughter of Rochester pensioner Richard Raj, found dead on Cliffe Marshes, criticises Kent Police hunt for dad

By Chris Hunter

The daughter of a pensioner found dead on Cliffe Marshes has criticised the police hunt for her father.

Eleanor Raj spoke at the inquest into the death of pensioner Richard Raj, who went missing from his home in Weatherly Close, Rochester, last September - sparking an urgent appeal from his family.

Richard Raj from Rochester
Richard Raj from Rochester

Reported missing on Friday, September 6, it wasn’t until Saturday, September 28, that two walkers discovered Mr Raj’s body in a pool of water in a remote part of the Cliffe Marshes.

“I was concerned he was quite vulnerable,” said Miss Raj about the investigation. “I just found it quite difficult initially speaking to a lot of different people - I was having to report the same thing.

“I just feel perhaps it wasn’t given a higher priority as soon as it should have been. Nobody came to take a statement until the third week.”

Whether or not a more intense investigation would have located Mr Raj sooner is unclear.

Richard Raj, 62. Photo: Steve Crispe
Richard Raj, 62. Photo: Steve Crispe

DS Moore told the inquest an official system was in place for prioritising missing person cases, which had been followed.

Although Mr Raj was known to go for long walks, these had previously taken him to all areas of Kent and no clues pointed specifically to him having gone to Cliffe Marshes.

The cause of death was not known, but various ideas were raised as possible contributory theories.

A diabetic, Mr Raj was dependent on regular insulin injections, without which his health would deteriorate. He also suffered from memory loss and had been diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia - a combination of Alzheimer’s and the rarer Pick’s disease.

While he had developed a strict regime to make sure he kept taking medication for his conditions, either his diabetes or memory loss, or a combination of both, could have led him to become confused or lost on the remote marsh while his health began to deteriorate.

Perhaps bad weather contributed, or perhaps he slipped on rocks while trying to cross the pool of water where he was found.

Mr Raj often went for long walks
Mr Raj often went for long walks

All were raised as possibilities but in the end assistant coroner Alan Blunsdon could only record an open verdict.

Born in India, Mr Raj was a retired accountant, and was well known as a friendly, kind man.

Family members described him as “a bit of a joker” and “very sociable.”

Speaking after the inquest, Eleanor Raj said she was set to have further talks with Kent Police.

“It’s a difficult one,” she said. “But I think they’ve taken on board what we’ve said.”

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