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Hackney police chief berates prankster as divers fish out fake body from Regent’s Canal

PUBLISHED: 15:19 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:56 27 November 2017

Police were called to reports of a body in the canal.

Police were called to reports of a body in the canal.

Peter Bailie

A police chief has berated those behind a time-wasting hoax that saw a lifelike dummy dumped into the Regent’s Canal, sparking 999 calls from passers-by who feared someone had drowned.

Police divers pack the Zodiac boat back into the van. Picture: Pat Venditti Police divers pack the Zodiac boat back into the van. Picture: Pat Venditti

Calls came in just after 10.15am yesterday and six officers from Hackney were sent to the water’s edge, setting up a “crime scene” on either side of the canal path by Dunston Road, Haggerston.

They taped it off and set up a tent while divers from the marine support unit launched an inflatable boat into the water.

The Gazette was also contacted by a concerned witness who upon seeing the tent and police tape by the canal feared the worst.

Divers recovered what at first appeared to be a body – but once it was dragged ashore just over an hour later it turned out to be a boiler suit filled with a duvet and toilet rolls.

"What may have seemed like a joke initially has actually taken officers away from dealing with domestic abuse incidents, safeguarding missing children, violence and preventative measures due to the rise in moped enabled crime"

Acting Ch Insp Iain Williams

Acting Ch Insp Iain Williams told the Gazette today: “This was a strange incident and unfortunately took away a lot of units that could have been dealing with calls from the public, which is disappointing.

“The object had cardboard-type tubing with a material inside to weigh it down.

“The tubing was bent where limbs would have been, giving further credibility to the initial thought it could have been a body.

“The shape was covered in material and wrapped in a duvet, which was tied up.”

The The "body" pulled out of the canal was a boiler suit stuffed with a duvet and tissue rolls. Picture: Pat Venditti

In all, the hoax took several officers at least two hours to deal with.

“What may have seemed like a joke initially has actually taken officers away from dealing with domestic abuse incidents, safeguarding missing children, violence and preventative measures due to the rise in moped enabled crime,” added A/Ch Insp Williams.

“I for one was disappointed to hear about this particular incident, and hopefully the individuals concerned will hear about the impact this has had and consider their actions in future.”

At least three people have been found dead in the waterway in recent years.

The body of EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was discovered in the Regent’s Canal in Hackney in 2012. Her brother Tony McCluskie was eventually jailed for her murder.

Three years later, Italian art thief Sebastiano Magnanini was found dead in the canal near King’s Cross. Michael Walsh and Paul Williams were convicted of preventing a lawful burial.

And the body of missing man Daniel Chapman was pulled from the water not far from the same spot in March last year.

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