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Horrified family reveal agony of weeks-long battle to bring body of 24-year-old back to the UK

A family that has fought to bring home their 24-year-old son’s body after he died in Vietnam claims he was repeatedly “lost” en route.

Denver Barfield, of Leicester, was killed after he and his friend crashed into a utility pole while riding a motorcycle in the early hours of May 16.

Denver and compatriot Beth Thompson, who graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Leicester, died instantly after the crash in the Vietnamese city of Hoi An.

His family said they have received little to no support from the Foreign Office or the British Embassy in their fight to bring him back to the UK.

Denver Barfield, from Leicester, was killed after he and his friend crashed into a utility pole while riding a motorcycle

Denver Barfield, from Leicester, was killed after he and his friend crashed into a utility pole while riding a motorcycle

His mother Debsy Clayton said the family received very few updates after finding out their son had passed away, and struggled to get the answers they needed.

The 50-year-old said she was initially harassed by a man posing as a coroner in a cruel hoax. He demanded $12,500 (£10,000) to repatriate him and send graphics of Denver’s body at the crash site to the family.

The heartbroken mother said the man, who was typing broken English, sent her a flood of messages saying she had to pay to transport her son’s body back to the UK or risk him being cremated.

The family eventually received a £12,000 bill from a legitimate funeral home to fly Denver home.

But given their previous experience, they were cautious and wanted to double check with the embassy in Vietnam.

Denver’s sister, Charley Clayton, told… Sky News“I spoke to the British police and we were told they did not know where Denver’s body was.

“The embassy in Vietnam later told us that his body was in one place and safe. But then my mom was told this wasn’t true, and they didn’t know where Denver’s body was.”

“I called the embassy and a woman said to me, ‘You have to call back tomorrow and chase this, because my shift just ended.'”

Denver’s body was put on a flight, which the family were told would go straight to the UK on May 27. But the passenger plane had a nine-hour layover in Istanbul.

Denver Barfield (pictured), from Leicester, and fellow countryman Beth Thompson, who graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Leicester, were killed in a crash after the crash in the Vietnamese city of Hoi An

Denver Barfield (pictured), from Leicester, and fellow countryman Beth Thompson, who graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Leicester, were killed in a crash after the crash in the Vietnamese city of Hoi An

When Mrs. Clayton called the local hospital the next day, where the family thought Denver would be smart, they were told they didn’t know where he was.

They contacted the police and were told it was not a police matter. Charley claims that a control room employee told her mother to “get herself together.”

Two days after the flight landed in the UK, the family was informed that Denver had arrived at the funeral home of their choice, only to find that his papers were still missing.

He arrived in the clothes he was wearing at the time of the accident, which the family were told smelled of feces and bodily fluids – and wrapped in a cloth that the Vietnamese authorities had used to cover him. His expensive designer shoes were missing.

The family was also told he was “very discolored” and had not been embalmed.

“The undertakers told me they’d never seen anything like it with how discolored he was and the condition he was in,” Charley said.

She added that she had a panic attack when she went to identify her brother.

“For me, to walk into that room and see him, I knew then he wasn’t coming home.”

The family is now awaiting the results of an autopsy conducted in the UK.

An inquest into his death has also been opened.

The family has criticized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassy for their lack of support, saying they were ‘completely exhausted’ [their] own’.

Debsy, who describes her son as 'kind' and an 'inspiration', said: 'I'm living in a nightmare not knowing what's happening to my Denver'

Debsy, who describes her son as ‘kind’ and an ‘inspiration’, said: ‘I’m living in a nightmare not knowing what’s happening to my Denver’

“The State Department just emailed me a flyer supposed to help, but even it didn’t have a step-by-step guide to what to do to get Denver home,” Charley said.

Debsy, who describes her son as “kind” and an “inspiration,” said: “I’m so upset about how I’ve been treated.

‘The coroner has a lot to answer for, because you don’t send photos or demand such money. It’s so wrong. I’m on tender hooks and don’t know what’s happening to my baby.

‘He was quirky kinda warm and caring and boy, could he tell you a story.

“He was raised in good manners and manners. I made sure to nag him and push him to do it right and he listened that he did it.

“He was truly an inspiration for every young person to look up to. I idolized him as I do all my children and my heart aches.’

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Our staff are supporting the families of a British man and woman who died in a road accident in Vietnam.”

Hundreds of people have since paid tribute to the 24-year-old, who, after earning a master's degree, was about to start a graduate job as a business manager in London.

Hundreds of people have since paid tribute to the 24-year-old, who, after earning a master’s degree, was about to start a graduate job as a business manager in London.

Leicestershire Police have confirmed they have received a complaint from the family.

“In the police’s initial response to the time of Mr Barfield’s death, the complaints officer noted that the officers acted in good faith and sought to assist and support Mr Barfield’s family, including by cooperating with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and then the Coroner’s Office,” it said in a statement.

“We have apologized to Mr Barfield’s family following an initial breakdown in communication regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Leicestershire Police.

“We have and will continue to fully support Mr Barfield’s family during this extremely difficult time and a community officer will remain in place as a dedicated point of contact for the family.

“The complaints handler reviewed a call to the police dispatch center and found that the call handler handled the call in a courteous and professional manner.”

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