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Detectives launch £20,000 murder inquiry after bogus tip-off from mystics

By Richard Savill
Published: 3:39PM GMT 05 Nov 2009
Police spent £20,000 scouring the country for a lion, a horse and a Mr Fox following a tip off they were told had come from the ghost of murdered man.
But after spending weeks on the inquiry, detectives discovered that the messages from beyond the grave suggesting that Carlos Assaf had been killed by gangsters were bogus.

Detectives initially suspected that Mr Assaf, a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, had hanged himself in his flat. However they revised their opinion and began a murder hunt when a tantalising new line of inquiry emerged.

A group of psychics got in touch claiming a spirit has told them that Mr Assaf had been strangled after being forced to drink petrol and bleach, an inquest into the death was told.

They reported seeing "a lion, a horse and the name Tony Fox in their visions".

As part of their investigation, detectives interviewed the mediums and visited more than a dozen pubs called the Red Lion and Black Horse in the west Wales area, where Mr Assaf lived.

They tracked down a known criminal called Tony Fox who was immediately eliminated from the inquiry, and they searched an area of Manchester after mediums suggested a possible link.

A second post mortem was carried out on Mr Assaf, the father of a four year-old boy, from Lampeter. But no bleach or petrol was found in his digestive tract.

Sgt Mark Webb, of Dyfed Powys Police, told the hearing officers found the information supplied by the mediums was “far from conclusive”.

But detectives conducted the investigation because they “wanted to be absolutely satisfied there was no third party involved."

The inquest heard conclusive evidence that Mr Assaf, a baker, had hanged himself from a weight training bench after a row with his girlfriend in March this year.

He had developed “bouts of anger” after becoming addicted to amphetamines.

The Ceredigion coroner, Peter Brunton, recorded a suicide verdict and commented that a “great deal of effort” was expended in following up the spiritualists’ claims.

After the inquest Mr Assaf's family said they were "grateful" to the police for investigating the information.

His mother, Shirley, said: "There is no doubt in my mind now that my son took his own life. The moral of the story is: `Do not take drugs’. If it had not been for the amphetamines, then my grandson would still have a father."

A spokesman for Dyfed Powys Police said: "The revelations of the mystics were brought to our attention via the family and these were followed to reassure the family that the full circumstances of the death were as they appeared.

"Police have a responsibility to the deceased, their family and the public to investigate all deaths thoroughly."

In recent years, a number of people have claimed they have psychic abilities which could help police in solving kidnapping and murder cases.

Last year, psychic investigators from a popular American television programme Haunting Evidence flew to Portugal in an attempt to solve the mystery of missing Madeleine McCann.

An American television drama series, Medium, is based on the experiences of a self-proclaimed spiritual medium Allison Dubois who claims to have worked with law enforcement agencies across America in criminal investigations.

Many police forces have felt the need to declare that they do not regard information derived from such sources as useful or credible on cases. In 2006, 28 British forces were reported to have said they did not and have never used psychics.


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