Russell Cordes, 49, – from Dover, Kent – took his own life just three days after he had returned home to discover police searching his house for child porn- and a BBC crew filming outside
A father took his own life just three days after he had returned home to discover police searching his house for child porn – and a BBC documentary crew filming outside.
Russell Cordes, 49, was found dead at his home in Dover, Kent, after taking an overdose of prescription medication on April 18 last year.
On April 15, police carried out a raid on his home on Oswald Road after they received intelligence that indecent images of children had been downloaded and made available to share from an IP address linked to him.
Mr Cordes was not arrested, the inquest at Maidstone Coroners’ Court heard.
One indecent image had been downloaded by Mr Cordes, the Independent Office for Police Conduct later reported.
Police were working with Channel 4 on a documentary, which aims to show the work of officers who identify and apprehend offenders involved in child sexual abuse.
The camera crew, from the BBC’s standalone production arm BBC studios, filmed outside during the raid.
They continued to film outside the property when Mr Cordes arrived home – and he told them that they did not have his consent to appear on camera.
The crew had 40 seconds of footage of Mr Cordes taken during the day’s filming.
Mr Cordes, 49, was found dead at his home after taking an overdose of prescription medication on April 18 last year
A laptop and a mobile phone were seized from the house.
Mr Cordes’s family have now accused the police of having ‘blood on its hands’ over its handling of the case.
They also pointed the finger at the BBC for being a ‘catalyst’ for his death.
Kent Police’s Detective Constable Darren Bassett said: ‘He was asked if he had seen any indecent images of children. He said he had but it wasn’t something he had searched for.
‘I explained to him if it was an accident, then it wasn’t anything to worry about because we would be able to see what search terms and websites he used.’
The camera crew, from the BBC’s standalone production arm BBC studios, continued to film outside the property when Mr Cordes arrived home – and he told them that they did not have his consent to appear on camera. Pictured: Mr Cordes with his daughter Drew, shared by Drew on social media
An interview was set up for the following day at a police station in Canterbury – but Mr Cordes never showed up.
Two days later, police community support officers discovered Mr Cordes dead following calls from concerned neighbours.
Police community support officers who discovered Mr Cordes, after concerned calls from neighbours, said a note was also found in the house which referenced ‘stigma’ and said that ‘he was sorry but could be happy now’.
During the inquest – which resumed yesterday – his family quizzed DC Bassett on why no welfare checks had been carried out before police and the camera crew arrived.
His step mother Heather Cordes asked: ‘Did you ask Russell whether he suffered from depression or anxiety?’
Mr Cordes’s daughter Drew (pictured with Mr Cordes) attended the hearing and paid tribute to her father. She said: ‘My father always put me first. There was not a moment I didn’t feel love and adored by him. We were incredibly close’
He replied: ‘You take somebody at face value. There was no reason for me to believe there was any underlying issues.’
His sister, Michele Cordes, blamed Kent Police for his death, when questioning DC Darren Bassett.
She said: ‘You have got blood on your hands.’
How Sir Cliff Richard’s life was ‘effectively turned upside down’ following live coverage of a police raid at his home
Sir Cliff Richard was the subject of a lengthy South Yorkshire Police investigation, centering on the accusations of four men dating between 1958 and 1983.
The original claim was later found to be littered with inaccuracies.
The first man to accuse Sir Cliff was found to suffer with ‘severe’ mental illness and schizophrenia.
Following a tip-off, the BBC filmed detectives raiding Sir Cliff Richard’s Berkshire home in August 2014 in connection with the police investigation.
Sir Cliff Richard was the subject of a lengthy South Yorkshire Police investigation
Sir Cliff was never arrested or charged.
His case was discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service, citing ‘insufficient evidence to prosecute’.
This lead to him being publicly named as part of the probe.
A High Court judge ruled the BBC had invaded his privacy by broadcasting the raid live on TV and he was awarded £210,000 in damages.
Coroner Katrina Hepburn asked DC Bassett whether there was any duty to carry out welfare checks before a search warrant.
He replied: ‘We carry out checks to confirm who lives at the address but their medical records wouldn’t be available to us.’
Mr Cordes’s daughter Drew attended the hearing and paid tribute to her father.
She said: ‘My father always put me first. There was not a moment I didn’t feel love and adored by him. We were incredibly close.’
She said that after her father lost his job at Currys, where he had been for 20 years, he had suicidal thoughts and had even written a note.
However, after after he secured a new position at P&O Ferries, he was much happier and in a ‘good place’.
She added: ‘When I spoke to him on 12 April over text, I got no indication of anything wrong. I got the impression he was thinking to the future.
‘My concern is that the presence of the BBC film crew was the catalyst to him taking his own life. The stress of the situation was completely unnecessary.’
The inquest was halted in the summer after it emerged that the IOPC was conducting its own investigation into the circumstances surrounding his suicide.
The IOPC report found that no officers had behaved in a manner that warranted prosecution or disciplinary action.
But it did accept that the presence of BBC crew caused Mr Cordes ‘more upset and distress’.
Summing up, Ms Hepburn said she was satisfied that Mr Cordes took an overdose of prescription medication with the intention to take his own life.
She said: ‘His mind was made up. He may well have taken into account the recent event with the police investigation.
‘There’s evidence in his note with ‘the stigma’. That may well have been the police investigation itself.’
Ms Hepburn said the presence of the BBC film crew could have been a ‘background factor’, causing him further stress, but was unlikely to have been the sole reason.
She added: ‘If you have a film crew filming a search warrant being executed then this may well be something that causes them to become a higher risk than they might otherwise have been without the film crew. It is already a stressful situation.’
Superintendent John Phillips, of Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: ‘Officers attended an address in Dover to execute a warrant on 15 April 2019.
On April 15, police carried out a raid on his home on Oswald Road (pictured) after they received intelligence that indecent images of children had been downloaded and made available to share from an IP address linked to him
‘No arrest was made but an appointment to visit a police station in Kent was arranged for the following day for a voluntary interview.
‘The man did not attend the police station and was subsequently found deceased at his home.
‘Kent Police referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct as is usual for a death after police contact.
‘The IOPC suggested a learning point relating to consideration whether camera crews should accompany officers in future.
‘Now the inquest has taken place, force policy relating to media presence during search warrants will be reviewed to establish any learning.’
An IOPC spokesperson said: ‘Following the death of Mr Russell Cordes, Kent Police referred themselves to IOPC, as is usual after someone dies or is seriously injured following contact with the police. We assessed the referral and decided that Kent Police should investigate and report their findings to us for review.
‘We received their report in August 2019 and agreed that it did not indicate that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner which would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.
‘However, we suggested they review their decision to have allowed a film crew to accompany the officers and consider whether any lessons can be learned for similar circumstances in the future.’
Mr Cordes was not arrested, the inquest at Maidstone Coroners’ Court (pictured) heard
A police spokesperson said: ‘Kent Police has been facilitating a documentary series to be aired on Channel 4 which aims to show the work of officers whose job it is to identify and apprehend offenders involved in child sexual abuse.
‘Filming covers cases from the start of investigations to the charge and conviction of perpetrators while showing the challenges officers face in securing prosecutions and, ultimately, protecting children.
‘Kent Police takes this vital area of police work exceptionally seriously and we are working to ensure the very highest standard of legal compliance and editorial rigour is applied to the broadcast of this extremely complex and sensitive area of policing.
‘It is hoped that any eventual series will lead to a better understanding of child sexual abuse, the policing of it and the impact which this type of offending has on victims and those close to them.’
A spokesman for BBC Studios said: ‘Our sincere condolences go out to the family.
‘BBC Studios were filming an observational documentary series for Channel Four following the work of Kent Police.
‘The crew accompanied the police to an address in Dover, where they were exercising a warrant.
‘None of this recorded material will be used in the series.’