The lifeless body of 22-year-old Charles Warrender, stationed on HMS Richmond in the Indian Ocean, was uncovered in the Seychelles. His remains were found at a park behind the national library in the island’s capital, Victoria, in late May 2015. ‘Death On The Beach: Seychelles: A Body in the Park’ on Investigation Discovery attempts to decode the mystery surrounding the death of this young engineering technician, featuring interviews with his parents, co-workers, and others involved in the ensuing probe and inquest.
Who Was Charlie Warrender?
Born on November 14, 1992, Britsh native Charles “Charlie” Warrender graduated from King Edward VI Grammar School in Louth to study at Franklin College and later at the Humberside Engineering Training Association. His mother, Kate Warrender, recalled, “Charlie was happy and optimistic, full of joie de vivre. He was always smiling and had a beautiful, huge smile. He had a wonderful, often irreverent, sense of humor. He loved to laugh and make others laugh, too.” She added that his charming son was also very social.
Charlie’s father, Steve Plaskitt, described his son as extroverted and adventurous, recounting their holidays spent cycling, swimming, and canoeing. Realizing his son’s knack for adventures, Steve stated how he had casually mentioned joining the Royal Navy to Charlie, and he happily ran with it. He applied for the Royal Navy when he was 17 and joined in September 2012 when he was 19. His parents were proud and excited for their son, hoping he had found a trade according to his expertise and never worried about his safety.
His colleague and friend, Tom Austin, reminisced that Charlie was one of those people who would talk to anybody. He added, “If you’re having a bad day, he’d make a joke out of it. Yeah, you could not have a bad time with Charlie.” Charlie’s superiors and co-workers described his honorable streak and how he never lied or badmouthed anyone. Charlie’s parents recalled how their good-natured and spirited son loved to travel with the Navy and had limited contact with him, barring one or two odd phone calls a week.
How Did Charlie Warrender Die?
In mid-2015, Charlie, serving on HMS Richmond in the Indian Ocean, reached the island paradise of the Seychelles, one of the world’s most desirable holiday locations. According to the show, he was part of a much larger operation called Operation Kipion. The British naval troops aimed to prevent piracy and the smuggling of drugs and illegal weapons through the Indian Ocean. The engineering technician looked forward to a weekend off in late May 2015 after working long hours in the heated engine room throughout the week.
On May 29, 2015, Charlie, 22, set out for a night off with his mates in Seychelles’ capital, Victoria, on the island of Mahe. The group headed to the exclusive The Boardwalk Bar on Eden Island — a popular hangout known for its overly expensive menu. However, his crewmate Junaid Asif had a shift the following day, and Charlie offered to accompany him to the HMS Richmond around midnight. According to the show, the duo rode a taxi to the center of Victoria. Junaid got out, and Charlie continued in the cab.
Charlie’s behavior broke a critical Navy protocol called “Shark Watch,” which orders sailors going ashore on their time off to stay with fellow servicemen and not venture out alone. On May 30, 2015, Charlie’s parents had gone to buy things for their son to send him in the next parcel when they got a phone call from his sister, Genevieve. She told them two Naval officers had come to the house, and the concerned parents rushed home to learn their son had died. The authorities had found his body in a park behind the National Library in Victoria.
However, the officers allegedly refused to divulge further information to the grieving parents, and they spent three days searching for information online. At last, Steve and Kate decided to fly to Seychelles to learn more about their son’s death themselves despite the family liaison officer’s alleged objections. The erstwhile British High Commissioner, Lindsay Skoll, and the ship’s captain, Mark Anderson, met with the parents on June 5, 2015. The local police handed them Charlie’s body the following day, allegedly claiming he had drunk himself to death.
The authorities suspected his body had been dumped in the park sometime between midnight and 6:00 am when a police officer spotted it underneath a tree. Charlie was barefooted, and the police found his shoes and socks next to his corpse. Reports suggested that the Ministry of Defence investigators made a discovery indicating that his bank card had been utilized on three separate occasions at ATMs across the island. The transactions occurred once before the group’s outing and twice after his solo departure. Around £200 was reported stolen.
Was Charlie Warrender Killed?
Kate refused to believe the official theory since she knew Charlie had a high alcohol tolerance, and she had seen pictures of his body underneath the tree to know he had not choked on his vomit. However, a UK pathologist performed the autopsy to determine he had died of asphyxiation consistent with excessive consumption of alcohol. He ordered a toxicology report, which subsequently concluded that the engineering technician had a fatal dose of 200 micrograms of high-grade heroin in his body (50 micrograms was enough to kill a human).
The police had also found high-grade heroin sprinkled on his chest. Despite having no history of drug abuse and a phobia of needles, the local police reportedly concluded the death as an accident and found no evidence of foul play. However, an inquest led by Grimsby and North Lincolnshire Coroner Paul Kelly in mid-June 2016 concluded, “There was no objective evidence of illicit drug use by the deceased. The overdose was likely administered by a third party.” However, the inquest did not record a verdict of unlawful killing.
Coroner Kelly also provided a plausible motive for the death, stating, “There is a possibility a theft was a reason for his death.” Dr. Nathaniel Cary, who conducted Charlie’s autopsy, discovered no needle marks on his body, failing to determine the exact spot from where the heroin was administered. However, he concluded that the amount of alcohol and morphine found in Charlie’s system adequately explained his death. Petty Officer Darren Mack reported that over 25 hours of the island’s CCTV footage revealed no trace of Charlie after he left in the taxi.
Two witnesses, Sheila Esparon and Didier Dorizo, gave statements about spotting Charlie, with the former seeing him with two men and two women. Didier claimed he saw three men and three women, with one wielding an iron bar. However, Charlie’s parents were disheartened by the inquest’s conclusion. Kate said she was convinced after hearing about all the facts that her son had been murdered. She added, “We are disappointed with the conclusion. We expected a conclusion of unlawful killing. We believe that he was murdered.”