A search for Worcester student Tom Jones ended in tragedy on Tuesday 2nd October when West Mercia police confirmed that the body recovered from the River Severn the Friday before was his. Jones, 18, had been missing since the early hours of 19th September after a night out during Worcester University’s Freshers’ Week.
According to Jones’s childhood friend Harley Hetherington, the teen was “behaving normally and didn’t seem intoxicated at all” just hours before his disappearance, and had texted his parents when he was two minutes away from home. Thought to have taken a walk on a footpath atop flood defences on the way there, the police have labelled his death “unexplained”, pending a post-mortem examination. In connection with the disappearance, two arrests were made on suspicion of murder, though both suspects were eventually released without charge.
Jones was last seen on Sabrina Bridge, however his father Ian is concerned that “vital clues” about his son’s death were missed, owing to the closest CCTV camera not working; a Worcester City Council spokesperson referred to “technical issues or routine maintenance”.
“The Sabrina Bridge camera has been out of action for 12 months. We regret that it was not working on the night that Thomas Jones went missing.”
A petition calling for CCTV to be installed on the River Severn has subsequently amassed nearly 18,000 signatures.
After his disappearance, hundreds of people united to form a search party, while in the digital sphere, a Facebook group was created which currently has 23,000 members, and is now raising funds for a memorial through a JustGiving page. The thoughts, prayers and well-wishes accompanying each donation make for tough reading. Phrases that are all too familiar to those who have known death - like “angel”, “deeply saddened” and “always remembered” - are continuously echoed by acquaintances who have endured a tremendous loss, and who have the impossible task of trying to articulate its magnitude.
Specially trained officers have been assigned to support Jones’s family, with the West Mercia Police Superintendent Damian Pettit thanking the public for their efforts in locating his body, praising the “overwhelming…sense of community”. A candlelit vigil was also held in his honour.
The shocking discovery had led to nationwide debate over the safety of students during freshers’ week.
If you’d like to do something to help Jones’s loved ones by donating to the memorial mentioned above; the JustGiving page can be found by looking up “Weʼre raising £10,000 to create a memorial for Jonah and remember him forever x”.
Image: Philip Halling