Russell Cowan, was 44 when he lost his life in Italy on 5/6/2016. He was in Italy with three friends as part of a charity car rally, which was raising funds for prostate cancer. We received a call on the morning of the 5th June informing us that there had been a tragic accident, and Russell was dead. This is when our nightmare began.
As a family we travelled to Menaggio the following day in order to bring Russell home, hoping desperately that when we got there it had been a mistake and he would be alive. We were told a witness had seen the "legs of a man falling over a fence", a 25 ft fall and was found lifeless. A postmortem in Italy identified the cause of death as catastrophic head injury. We visited the scene and that is when our suspicions were raised. We could not imagine how he could have fallen in the place they stated, as the fence could not be scaled and was above Russell's shoulder. The gap in which they said he fell was narrow and no marks on his legs or arms indicated scuffs which would have happened if he had fallen there.
When back in the UK, a inquiry was opened and our concerns in relation to the poor and inadequate police investigation was passed on to the British police, who informed us that unless the Italian police invited them to join the investigation they had no jurisdiction. We waited 17 months and despite numerous attempts to gain clarity from the witness, as an Italian citizen, the coroner could not compel him to assist. The coroners verdict was "open, as third party involvement could not be ruled out".
We received no support or guidance from the foreign and common wealth office and therefore we were left no other option than to go it alone. We contacted an Italian solicitor to help us find the truth, who linked us to a private investigator and mechanical falls expert. Their reports highlighted the inadequate police investigation, which did not question all present at the scene, and no forensic examination of the scene took place. The technical report proved that the fall could not have taken place as indicated by the witness, thereby raising the question as to what did happen? New evidence highlighted other people who were also at the scene, that did not come forward until the private investigator asked further questions and requested formally to the court that they be questioned. Telephone analysis did not take place and Fitbit data showing the timings were out, was also overlooked.
Despite our efforts, at the last hearing the judges decision was to close the file, noting that Russell's death was an accident. Sadly there are too many unanswered questions and we are still left with worries that his death was not as the Italians would lead us to believe. The judge noted how poor the investigation had been and that the witness had withheld information. Despite this no charges were brought against him. We have received no help from the UK, and have funded the investigation ourselves. To date we have spent in excess of £30k, sadly we are now struggling to fund this any further.
We sadly are now at a point when we need your help in the form of donations in order to appeal the judges decision, which will hopefully support us in finding the truth about how Russell died.
Russell was a fabulous father, husband, son and loved his family and life! He saw good in all and worked hard and with passion always. We feel he has been let down by a country he served for and one which he loved. When needed most his country has turned their back on him, leaving the family to struggle to get justice for him on their own. Please support us in finding the truth, getting justice and allowing Russell to rest.
We are unsure what further costs may be, but the next stage is to appeal the judges decision.
Our heartfelt thanks goes to any who may read this and feel moved to support us.