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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Back from the dead

May 18 2009
Manchester mother thought the police were playing a cruel joke about her ‘dead‘ son Police are searching for the family of a homeless man who was wrongly identified and cremated. The search started after a mother, who had identified what she thought was the body of her son, was contacted the day after his cremation by police who claimed to be holding him in custody. On 30th October, Gina Partington, from Urmston, Greater Manchester, identified the body as Thomas Dennison. Mr Dennison suffered from mental health problems and had been sleeping rough and busking on the streets of Nottingham. His case worker had reported him missing five days previously and had made the first identification of the body at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Mrs Partington and her ex-husband also confirmed his identity. A death certificate was issued and the body was cremated at a ceremony the following day. Mrs Partington later received a call from police saying they had her son in custody. The grieving mother thought it was a cruel joke and refused to believe her son was alive until she spoke to him over the phone. It was only when he knew her mother's maiden name that she believed he was alive. The dead man is believed to be a 37-year-old homeless man from the local area, though his identity is still unknown. He died near Upper Brooke Street in Rusholme on 12th October. Mrs Partington had sat with the dead man, whom she believed was her son, holding his hand for nearly an hour. She told BBC News: "They could have been twins." Police confirmed there were uncanny similarities between the two men: their faces were almost identical, and they even shared distinctive scars. Mrs Partington told BBC News about the surreal experience of describing the funeral to her son. "I said to him, 'I have given you a really good send off. You have had a Scottish flag and a Scottish minister - it has been a proper Scottish funeral.'" The case has been voluntarily referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, though Mrs Partington insists that she does not blame the police as even she was convinced of his identity.