THE family of a disabled man who was strangled to death have spoken out after it was found the doctor who examined him failed to do the job properly.
Dr Peter Acland, an experienced medical examiner, was the pathologist tasked with examining the body of 21-year-old Adrian Palmer, of Tenbury Wells.
A medical panel has concluded he had demonstrated “serious misconduct”.
However, despite this Dr Acland was said to be “a good and useful doctor” and it would “not be in the public interest to remove or restrict” him from practice “in any way”.
Dr Acland was also before the panel for serious failings in relation to the separate case of Mervyn Fletcher, found murdered at home in Walsall in the Black Country in 2004.
In that case, Dr Acland’s failures – which he admitted – led him to conclude the wrong cause of death, stating Mr Fletcher had died after a fall, when in fact he had been battered to death.
Mr Fletcher’s remains later had to be exhumed and new tests carried out.
The body of Mr Palmer, who suffered with Asperger’s syndrome, was found dumped in an alleyway by a postal worker in Tenbury in May 2006.
He was strangled by Ben Murphy, who was later convicted of manslaughter and served four years for his crime.
Mr Palmer’s family complained about Dr Acland’s post mortem in 2007, but legal red tape held up progress.
Now a medical practitioners tribunal panel (MPTP) has found Dr Acland failed to properly perform a forensic post-mortem on Mr Palmer, by not making an adequate description of the examination.
The panel found Dr Acland had not properly recorded a number of visible features on the body, including skin discolouration caused by stagnation of the blood after death, and other haemorrhaging, as well as not recording examinations of particular areas.
He had “failed to adhere to good medical practice”, which was “of particular concern” as he had repeated his earlier mistakes.
The panel decided there should be no separate penalty.
They also accepted his removal from the list of Home Office pathologists in 2009 had an impact on Dr Acland’s workload and income and a review of his work found no other issues. A spokesman for Mr Palmer’s family said: “We believe and always shall believe the consequences [of Dr Acland’s errors] were severe.
“Dr Acland had first chance to see what had happened to Adrian.
“We were reliant on him for his thoroughness but he let us and, more importantly Adrian, down.
“Forensic pathology is such an important part of a criminal investigation we strongly believe post mortems should be conducted by two pathologists at the same time.
“That way both prosecution and defence pathologists get to see immediately effects, unlike in Adrian’s case when several days had passed between the examinations.”
l Mr Palmer’s death has been dogged with controversy, with an IPCC report criticising police failures to investigate a rape claim he made against Murphy, although it found this had not contributed to his death. Two years ago, the family failed in a High Court bid to reopen the previously adjourned inquest into his death.