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Woman finds out brother is alive three hours after police said he died


Zoe Lee was told her brother James (pictured with Zoe’s son Kian) had died, only to later find out police had made a mistake (Picture: Wessex News Agency)

A woman was told that her brother had died only for police to realise three hours later they’d got the wrong person.

Zoe Lee, 31, was called by her former sister-in-law Chloe Blackham on Sunday morning who said she’d been told by police that her younger sibling James had died.

Zoe hadn’t heard from James, who has special needs and lives in assisted living accommodation, for several days and spent a frantic few hours trying to figure out what had happened.

After several attempts at calling around various police stations in the area, she finally managed to speak to an officer who told her they had made a mistake and had in fact been trying to get in touch with a different Zoe Lee.

Mum-of-one Zoe, who lives in South Shore, Blackpool, said: ‘My brother lives in care, he has learning disabilities and because I hadn’t heard from him in the last few days I thought it was him. It was a whirlwind.

‘I couldn’t piece together what might have happened to him. I had spoken to him a week before and he seemed fine.

‘But because he’s away from the family right now, and we haven’t been able to visit him because of Covid-19, everything was crossing my mind.

‘I didn’t know if someone had attacked him or if he’d ended his own life. You can imagine the crazy thoughts that were going through my mind.’

She was told police would get in touch with her but three hours passed and she’d received no word of what may have happened to James, 29.

Most of the phones at police stations in Blackpool and Lancashire were going straight to voicemail each time, and when she finally managed to get hold of an officer, he said there had been a mistake.

She was told police had been looking for a different woman with the same name and had tracked down the other Zoe Lee shortly after speaking to Chloe.

‘I waited for three hours, crying. I didn’t want to call my family until I knew more’, Zoe said.

‘Three hours passed and I hadn’t heard anything, so I contacted the police officer directly and he was quite abrupt and rude with me. He said basically there had been a mix-up.

‘I was gobsmacked. I told them I’d been sat there grieving for three hours. I don’t think they were even going to bother getting back to me.

‘He was in a hurry to hang up on me. I spent the whole day in shock. My mind was in turmoil.

‘They offered me no explanation at all. Personally I think it’s quite disgusting, the way they dealt with it.’

Zoe, who works as a teaching assistant, now plans to lodge a formal complaint.

Chloe, 27, said police arrived at Zoe’s ex-husband’s home in Warton on Sunday morning with the tragic news.

The officers asked Chloe to get in touch with Zoe and let her know the police were looking for her.

‘I was ringing her and my mum was ringing her. We were all trying to get through to her as soon as possible,’ Chloe said.

‘They told us not to tell her what they wanted to talk to her about but I thought she had the right to know so I told her.’

Lancashire Police have so far not made an official comment.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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