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Funeral for Roger Newnham, of Strood, will be held five months late after cyber attack on Eurofins Scientific forensics lab

By Ed McConnell

Almost five months after a grandfather’s body was found in his burning home his son is finally able to arrange his funeral.

Blind wheelchair user Roger Newnham, 71, was discovered by firefighters at his bungalow in Orchid Close, Strood, on the evening of Sunday, March 24.

It was first thought he had died as a result of the fire but a post-mortem eventually revealed he had succumbed to undiagnosed chronic COPD — a respiratory issue — possibly while lighting a cigarette.

Roger Newnham died in March (14954897)
Roger Newnham died in March (14954897)

The retired aeronautics engineer was blinded following a shotgun accident in Cobham Woods when he was 18 and his mobility deteriorated in recent years meaning he’d regularly sit inside and smoke.

Son Alex, 42, now thinks his father dropped his Zippo on the floor accidentally setting fire to his home. Police have since confirmed his death is not being treated as suspicious.

Due to the extent of the damage a DNA test was required to make absolutely sure the remains were Mr Newnham’s but after a much-publicised cyber attack the private forensics lab used by Kent Police was put on lock down for several weeks, meaning Alex was left without the results he needed to register the death and arrange a funeral.

Roger Newnham died in March (14954903)
Roger Newnham died in March (14954903)

Speaking to the Messenger in June he said: “It’s been his birthday and Father’s Day since he died and we still haven’t been able to have the funeral.

“I’ve got family asking me when the funeral is and thinking they’ve missed it.”

In the end Alex was allowed to do another test and has now received both sets of results.

Mr Newnham was an F1 fanatic and would drink in the Bounty pub in Bligh Way.

Roger Newnham's bungalow in Orchid Close (14954909)
Roger Newnham's bungalow in Orchid Close (14954909)

He had always lived in Strood and used to work at BAE Systems when it was GEC Aveonics inspecting aircraft.

He would be allowed to take his guide dog in to work and leave it in a kennel while he checked drill holes were correctly placed using touch.

Mr Newnham and his then wife Fern Calcutt used to run the Rose and Crown pub in Wouldham, which has since closed.

His funeral will be held at noon on Wednesday, August 21 at Thamesview Crematorium.

Alex said: “Anyone is welcome. We’re not worried about flowers but if anyone wants to make a donation to Guide Dogs for the Blind they are more than welcome.”

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