Five days after a Virgin Islands police detective from the United Kingdom was found dead in a submerged jeep near the Road Town helipad, officials said they had found no evidence of foul play.
“A pathologist will arrive in the territory on Sunday, and the post-mortem for [Detective Paul] France will be carried out on Monday morning. We must await the results of that post-mortem,” Governor John Rankin said at a press conference last Thursday with other members of the National Security Council. “Precisely what occurred is not yet clear. They can state that there is so far no evidence that his death was a result of foul play.”
The jeep itself will also be investigated, according to Police Commissioner Mark Collins.
“There’ll be an examination of the vehicle by a vehicle expert that looks at the transmission and all of the issues in relation to the vehicle. I have nothing at the moment that suggests that any foul play has taken place,” Mr. Collins said at the press conference. “We have trolled CCTV; we have eyewitnesses; we’ve spoken to the people that he was with immediately before. I’m not going to go into the investigation because a file will be made available, of course, to the coroner’s court.”
Mr. Collins also attested to the vehicle examiner’s ability to perform the necessary work.
“One of the questions I raised this week, actually, was in relation to that specific individual’s competency to carry out the investigation on the vehicle,” the commissioner said. “I’m satisfied that he does have the required knowledge.”
Also during the press conference, both the governor and commissioner praised the late detective.
“Paul France was a fine and dedicated officer whom I had the privilege of meeting on a number of occasions,” Mr. Rankin said. “His family was informed of his death at the weekend and I’ve expressed my condolences to them on their loss, and I’m grateful for the honourable premier for having done the same.”
The commissioner spoke similarly.
“Paul had been with us for just over two years and was a very well-liked and very popular character, not just within the [police force], but also within the wider community as well. Hence, the number of condolence messages we’ve received within the organisation.”
Mr. France had worked for almost 40 years in police services in the UK and the VI, according to the Police Information Office.
On the morning of Oct. 7, police received a report of a submerged vehicle and arrived to find a white jeep fully submerged in the ocean near the Road Town helipad, they said at the time.
Members of the public assisted police and fire officers on the scene, and a video posted by JTV News showed three men swimming down to the vehicle repeatedly before surfacing with the body.
Mr. France was later declared deceased. Photos circulating on social media showed the vehicle being removed from the water with a crane.
A set of tyre tracks led to the shoreline near where the jeep was recovered. The tracks made a direct line from the parking lot near the helipad to the ocean, proceeding across a section of field, across the heliport, across another section of field, and to a line of boulders bordering the water.