In a story vaguely reminiscent of an incident that took place in Canada over a year ago (which I blogged about a couple times), Welsh police are defending their decision to follow up on information given to them by “psychics” about a suicide. The (UK) Guardian reports they stand by this decision, in the face of criticism:

Psychic ‘leads’ prompt murder inquiry

A police force has defended spending £20,000 investigating a man’s death after his ghost was said to have told psychics that gangsters had forced him to drink petrol and bleach.

Carlos Assaf, 32, a baker, was found dead at his flat in Lampeter, west Wales, after a row with his girlfriend, Louise Edwards, 23, on 30 March.

An inquest this week recorded a verdict of suicide after hearing there was no evidence of foul play. However the coroner, Peter Brunton, queried the murder inquiry held after mediums tipped off police, suggesting that the words “lion, a horse and a man called Tony Fox” were significant. “There was a great deal of communication between the mediums and the police,” he said. “A great deal of effort was expended in following these leads up.”

This “investigation” involved a lot of physically tracking down vague clues given by the “psychics.” They spent a lot of time — and therefore money — trailing vainly after some psychics’ gibberish. Nevertheless, they’re unrepentant about it:

A statement from Dyfed-Powys police said: “The revelations of the mystics were brought to our attention via the family and these were followed to reassure the family that the full circumstances of the death were as they appeared. Police have a responsibility to the deceased, their family and the public to investigate all deaths thoroughly.”

Sergeant Mark Webb told the inquest that officers began investigating links with “Tony Fox”. He said: “We received communications from friends and family of Mr Assaf involving spiritualist mediums. We interviewed the mediums and, having carried out an investigation, we found the information far from conclusive. We wanted to be absolutely satisfied there was no third party involved.”

Fortunately the Guardian found at least one person who admits that — perhaps — this should not have been done:

A police source said: “We are becoming a laughing stock. We went haring across the country looking for a lion, a horse and someone called Fox based on info from cranks. Not surprisingly, it turned out to be a wild goose chase which cost at least £20,000 in time and resources.”

Way to go guys. Keep doing the laughable. At least in this case — unlike the one in Barrie, Ontario last year — no one was erroneously charged with anything, because of these psychics’ claims, and a mother and child weren’t separated over it. That still doesn’t mean these guys ought to get a “pass” on their poor judgement.

Hat tip: Skeptic’s Dictionary.

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