Date: 7 Sep 2013
John-Paul Merrick was found injured on a railway track at Willow Bottom Lane, Wigginton on 7 September 2013 and died soon after.
It was initially said that he had hit a bridge with his car and then either fallen, or jumped, 30ft on to the tracks below, where he was then hit by a train.
His initial inquest concluded that he had died from the result of a tragic accident.
British Transport Police had been responsible for attending the scene and it appeared that they had assumed that he had been hit by a train and had not taken pictures of his body or kept the clothes that he had been wearing at the time.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, but it was claimed that he had stab wounds and his family said that they thought he had been murdered.
They said that his injuries were not consistent with a fall or him being struck by a train.
An independent review of the post-mortem later stated that there were incised wounds to his body, including a 13cm wound to his right upper arm as well as a number of similar cuts to his lower right forearm and his hand, which went down to the bone. It was also heard that all three of his right upper and lower arm bones were broken as well as some of the fingers and bones in his right hand.
The doctor that reviewed the findings in 2017 said that the injuries to his arm had been caused by a sharp instrument and that they were defensive in nature. Other incised wounds to his head, back and between his ribs were also found.
It was also noted that the original post-mortem found no leg fractures consistent with a fall and that he had had no significant multiple injuries consistent with having been hit by a train.
The doctor said, 'The pattern of injuries do not form, on an objective appraisal, a pattern which would accord with being struck by or having had a ‘near-miss’ by a fast-moving train. In either scenario there would have been significant multiple injuries. A further confounding factor of the injuries is that they do not relate to having been caused by a fall from considerable height. In the overall consideration of such a possible scenario there would be point impact injuries with the body remaining at this point and not bouncing to change position. Hence it is difficult to reconcile the causation of the injuries to the back being caused by the ballast'.
The doctor noted that there was grease or oil on John-Paul Merrick's body, but that it was difficult to consider where it had come from, noting that it was a shame that British Transport Police had not kept his clothes.
It was also noted that when paramedics arrived, they found no blood at the scene or bleeding from his deep cuts and very little fluids inside him. They noted that they administered four pints of saline in a bid to revive him.
It was also heard that a witness had described an altercation on the bridge between two men, but that the two men were never been traced.
His mother said that she thought that John-Paul Merrick had been beaten elsewhere and then dragged onto the tracks and that he was the victim of a carefully executed murder.
His family said that John-Paul Merrick told them that he had been chased by a mystery vehicle a few days before his death and had told a family friend that unsavoury characters had been after him.
It was also noted that the bridge where he was found was not on his normal route home.
At the time John-Paul Merrick had been engaged and had been on his way home after having had a drink with a friend at a pub. He had stopped off for a takeaway in Shenstone and had then headed off home to Clifton Campville and had called his fiancee at 10.10pm. However, she said that he had ended the call by saying, 'I've got to go, I've got a problem'.
His family noted that an old shape red Ford Fiesta had been involved and called for anyone that might have seen it on the bridge itself or the roads leading up to the bridge on the evening of Friday 6 September 2013 to come forward. They said that it would have been travelling from the Shenstone Tesco Express towards Harlaston, Tamworth and that they were keen to hear anything from anyone with information about it, including the identity of its driver.
His family said, 'We have no confidence in Staffordshire Police or British Transport Police whatsoever. We want an outside force, a third party, to come in and conduct an investigation'.
John-Paul Merrick had previously run a tyre business and at the time of his death he ran one of Britain’s biggest select number plate dealerships.
He had a son.