dailymail.co.uk - The daughter of a millionaire strip club owner battered to death in the Caribbean has today accused the authorities of ‘corruption and cover up’, revealing they even sent the wrong body back to the UK.
Denise D’Courtenay, 60, had been missing for more than a week before her decomposing body was discovered in bushes on a beach on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.
She was last seen leaving her hotel with a man and a post-mortem carried out on the Caribbean island said she had been battered to death.
Her devastated daughter Naomi Robinson cried as she told an inquest how her mum’s alleged murderer, ex-military policeman Hector Amauris de la Cruz, never stood trial and was freed after just a year on remand.
Southwark Coroners’ Court heard how, in a string of blunders, Dominican Republic police and authorities were not cooperative following the death of former model Ms D’Courtenay on July 26, 2010. And they even sent the wrong body back to the UK.
Officials also removed organs from Ms D’Courtenay and embalmed the body so a cause of death could not be ascertained by British pathologists.
Ms Robinson said: ‘The Dominican Republic and embassy haven’t really been cooperative - there was a lot of corruption and cover up.
‘The man who killed her served a year on remand and now is a free man. He was never convicted of killing my mum, he never stood trial.
‘In the Dominican Republic, you serve time on remand and then pay to be free. He was an ex-military policeman and no one else was charged.’
Ms D’Courtenay, who ran the South London strip club Queen Anne in Vauxhall for 30 years, had been visiting the Dominican Republic for the last 20 years.
She had been staying at the Casa Marina Reef hotel in Cabrete De Sonsua when she vanished during her two week trip on the Caribbean island.
Her body was discovered decomposed nine days later next to a penknife in some bushes on a beach by locals.
And her family’s turmoil was exaggerated further when officials sent the wrong body back to the UK.
Ms Robinson said: ‘Me and my family were advised not to go over to the Dominican Republic.
‘They sent the wrong body first of all... I wanted to go over and fly back with her but I was told not to travel out there because of the corruption.
‘I didn’t know anything about her having a relationship and she hadn’t said anything about the policeman.’
A post-mortem carried out in the Dominican Republic revealed Ms D’Courtenay received a blunt trauma to the face and neck.
However, when a British autopsy was carried out, it was impossible to find a cause of death as the body had been embalmed and organs removed.
Ms D'Courtenay's daughter, Naomi Robinson, today accused the Dominican Republic authorities of 'corruption and cover up', revealing they even sent the wrong body back to the UK (Ms D'Courtenay picture)
Coroner Lorna Tagliavini said: ‘At the moment your mum was discovered, the body was already decomposed.
‘It was found under bushes on the beach having been there for some nine days. Given the heat and climate conditions, it is likely decomposition would have been sped up.
‘A post-mortem in the Dominican Republic found blunt trauma on the face and neck.
‘By the time your mum’s body was received in the UK, there had been some embalming done.
‘When your mum’s body was received, certain internal organs were not returned with her. It is not uncommon to receive bodies back to the UK from foreign countries with organs missing.
‘The cause of death following the post-mortem in the UK was given as unascertained. As the body was examined there and sadly not returned complete, a lot of evidence would have been destroyed.’
The coroner was also forced to apologise to the family after Dominican Republic police sent ‘vague’ documentation ahead of the inquest - including a short police report.
The statement from the Central Branch of Criminal Investigations read: ‘A British national left the hotel where she was a guest with an unknown man.
‘Following a complaint, officers proceeded immediately to carry out a search of the place.
‘We were informed there was a dead body in a wooded area and immediately attended the scene, finding the body in a state of decomposition.
‘The cadaver was identified by a friend of the deceased. Found near the body was a multi-purpose pen knife.
‘Investigating officers proceeded to arrest Hector Amauris de la Cruz, who served a year on a remand.’
Ms D'Courtenay, who ran the South London strip club Queen Anne in Vauxhall for 30 years, had been visiting the Dominican Republic for the last 20 years
Recording an open verdict, Ms Tagliavini said: ‘One of the difficulties I have is finding how she came to her death.
‘I do not have a lot of trust in the documents I have been given as they vague.
‘To return a verdict of unlawful killing, I would to be sure of the circumstances leading to your mum’s death and I don’t know anything.
‘The cause of death is unascertained. I can’t be sure your mum was unlawfully killed, we think it but can’t be sure without more evidence.
‘I’m recording an open conclusion. I know that is not satisfactory but there are so many unanswered questions.
‘I do hope that sometime, somewhere, you get more information. I am so sorry I can’t give you more answers, I wish I could.’
DOMINICAN WATCHDOG, READ ALSO OUR ORIGINAL ARTICLE 4 YEARS AGO!!!
Another tourist and investors killed in Dominican Republic. Denise D'Courtenay, 60, was stabbed to death before being buried in bushes on a beach in Sosua. She was owner of a famous strip club in London and several apartments in Cabarete..........
Denise D'Courtenay, 60, a millionairess strip-club owner from London, was stabbed to death in July. The killer has not yet been found. Her daughter said she was 'appalled and upset' to learn the body brought home was not her mum's and her family had been told by investigators not to travel to the Dominican Republic for their own safety.......