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Why parents of Minster dad Philip Stovell believe he was murdered

As mystery still surrounds the death of a Kent dad, we look back at the night he lost his life - and why his parents think he was murdered...

In the early hours of October 7, 2021, people tucked up in their beds along a quiet residential street were woken by strange noises.

Police at the scene of the tragedy in Caxton Road, Garlinge last October. Picture: UKNIP
Police at the scene of the tragedy in Caxton Road, Garlinge last October. Picture: UKNIP

One woman says she heard a drunken man outside her home in Caxton Road, Garlinge, talking and moaning incoherently for about an hour.

Then suddenly she heard a thud and a loud crunch.

She looked out of the window and saw a car parked up the road with the driver standing outside - who then "drove off hastily".

The woman went into the road and saw a man lying on his side. His breathing was laboured and there was blood on his back.

Her husband, who is a first aider, came out to help - but they could get no response and called 999.

Philip Stovell with his parents Alec and Maureen. Picture: Stovell family
Philip Stovell with his parents Alec and Maureen. Picture: Stovell family

The man in the road - 32-year-old railway worker Philip Stovell - was flown by air ambulance to King's College Hospital in London. But he never regained consciousness and tragically died three days later.

Forensic investigations have since established his traumatic head injuries were suffered in a fall.

Philip had in fact already been lying in the road when he was hit by the car.

Police say he most likely fell as a result of being drunk.

But his parents believe he was murdered.

Aftermath of tragedy

A post-mortem revealed Philip, a dad from Way Hill, Minster, near Ramsgate, had suffered traumatic brain injuries and broken limbs.

Meanwhile, toxicology test results showed he had drunk two-and-a-half times the legal driving limit and taken cocaine and ketamine.

Railway line worker Philip Stovell
Railway line worker Philip Stovell

But after claims that Philip had been attacked prior to being hit by the car, police launched an investigation.

Detectives arrested two men on suspicion of assault but subsequently ruled out foul play and released them without charge.

The driver, Kye Denny, 40, from Garlinge, was charged with drug driving and failing to stop after an accident. He admitted the offences and magistrates later banned him from driving for 12 months and sentenced him to a 12-month community order.

Alec Stovell speaks to KentOnline

But at an inquest this week, Philip's father, Alec Stovell, 75, said he still believed his son had been attacked before the collision. He believes it was an assault which caused the severe injuries, prior to Philip falling or lying down in the road.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Stovell's wife Maureen, 69, from Westgate, said many others share their view.

"There were over 300 people at his funeral and we are all saying the same thing - that it was murder," said Mrs Stovell.

"They have tried to convince us the fall caused Philip's head injury. But even the pathologist wasn't sure.

"But the police say not - so what can I do about it?"

How did Philip Stovell suffer traumatic head injuries?

The inquest into Philip's death was held at the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone on Wednesday, where significant evidence surrounding the tragedy was presented.

What was not in doubt was that Philip was lying in Caxton Road when hit by the Vauxhall Corsa driven by Mr Denny, shortly after 1am that night.

He was found with serious head injuries, broken legs and a broken hip.

Philip Stovell was a much-loved son
Philip Stovell was a much-loved son

Mr Denny was arrested at his home nearby shortly after, initially on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

The pathologist recorded that the death had been through the traumatic head injury, which he said was the result of considerable impact.

Police spoke to residents in the road, including the woman mentioned above who reported hearing a drunken man outside her home.

Her witness account was recalled to the coroner by one of the investigation team, PC Darren Chapman.

Forensic collision officer PC Kirsten Heath told the coroner that all the damage to the Vauxhall Corsa was low down on one side, suggesting contact with the underside of the vehicle.

It was fragments of the car that later helped officers identify the vehicle as being involved.

But she added: "It suggests Mr Stovell was lying flat when he was hit - but there was no physical evidence of contact with his head."

Extensive door-to-door inquiries were carried out by police, who also studied home CCTV footage and Philip's mobile phone records.

CID officer DC Sarah Copeland said no evidence of Philip being assaulted was uncovered.

Philip Stovell was airlifted to a London hospital but never regained consciousness
Philip Stovell was airlifted to a London hospital but never regained consciousness

Their inquiries showed that Philip was on his own and that the men initially arrested had gone their own way.

"A witness saw and heard Philip from midnight onwards drunkenly mumbling until the road traffic collision," DC Copeland said.

'He wanted to get revenge'

The inquest also heard how the separate criminal investigation was launched after claims were made that Philip had previously been assaulted that evening.

Mr Stovell senior said his son had phoned him that night in a distressed state about an argument he had at a wake he had attended earlier in the day and was asking for help.

"He was desperate and delirious and saying he wanted to get revenge," he said.

He told the coroner that others had said his son had been attacked.

And his suspicions were raised further when the pathologist described it as "a difficult case", adding that he "could not entirely discount" that the head injuries could have been caused by an assault.

But he was sure that due to the severity of the injury, Mr Stovell could not have suffered it elsewhere and walked to the location where he was found in the road.

He believed the most likely scenario was that it was caused by a fall.

Adjourning the hearing to a date to be fixed next month, the coroner Catherine Wood said: "There are theories as to how Mr Stovell's head injury was sustained but no evidence presented at all that he was assaulted."

But she said she wanted the pathologist to attend the next hearing in person, to offer more detailed information about the possible cause of the head injury.

Grieving parents want answers

Speaking to KentOnline from their Westgate home after the inquest, Mr Stovell paid tribute to his son.

Alec Stovell believes his son's death was not an accident
Alec Stovell believes his son's death was not an accident

"He was a lovable character," he said.

"He really looked after his mum - he'd come over and do the cooking.

"After he died we had more then 2,000 condolences from people on the internet.

"It's a very great loss to the family. We must not forget he had an eight-year-old daughter who lost her dad."

Mr Stovell insists he is "not happy" with the way the inquiry into Philip's death has been dealt with.

"This has left a very bad taste - not just for me but his friends too," he added.

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