Detectives track boxer Darren Sutherland’s ‘missing hours’

Darren Sutherland (Copyright tommylakesphotography.com)

Darren Sutherland (Copyright tommylakesphotography.com)

DETECTIVES are trying to trace boxer Darren Sutherland’s movements on the night before he killed himself.

He went missing for about five hours from the flat in Bromley where he was found hanging by his manager, Frank Maloney.

Now police officers handling the coroner’s investigation into his death and a team of detectives employed by Maloney want to know where he went between around 5.30pm and 11pm on Sunday, September 13.

The 27-year-old Olympic bronze medallist left his flat on foot, leaving behind his car – which remained in the garages at the back of his second-floor flat.

Darren was on the phone to his parents for about three hours on the Sunday in a call that ended around 5.30pm and he is believed to have left the flat almost immediately afterwards.

Later on in the evening, he had a ‘lengthy’ phone conversation with his trainer, Bryan Lawrence – one of the last people to speak to Darren before he killed himself.

Police – who are believed to be analysing a diary written by Darren – have also taken full statements from Frank Maloney and members of the team he organised to run Darren’s career.

Detectives are also understood to have searched through CCTV footage of the area of Bromley where friends insist he was involved in an altercation outside a gay bar in the town.

The incident, which happened about six weeks ago, was believed to have played a part in Maloney’s decision to pull Darren from a forthcoming fight. 

Darren Sutherland (Copyright tommylakesphotography.com)

Darren Sutherland (Copyright tommylakesphotography.com)

However, last night this was denied by his manager who said he had not known about the incident.

Sources close to the investigation said last night: ‘It’s a complete mystery as to where he went and who he was with on the night before he died.

‘His suicide was completely out of character and there is a strong feeling that if somebody can explain what Darren did the night before he died, it would shed light on why he did what he did.

‘The hours when he left his flat and returned at 11pm are crucial.’

Maloney said last night: ‘I cannot make any comment about the ongoing investigation. Every member of my team are co-operating fully with the police, who have taken statements from us all.’

He did however react to Friday night’s Late Late appearance by Darren’s grieving father Tony, who buried his son in Navan last Monday.

On Friday’s show, Tony attacked Maloney for not having called him on the day his son died, and for not having contacted him ever since.

Darren’s body was discovered at 3pm and the family were only notified at 8pm that evening – some time after notices started appearing on social networking sites.

Ryan Tubridy

Ryan Tubridy

Maloney, who was hospitalised after discovering Darren’s body, said: ‘I am appalled at the line of questioning by Ryan Tubridy.

‘He seemed to be trying to entice Darren’s father into saying something.

‘It was disgraceful. I have to be very careful what I do say for a number of reasons.

‘But above all of them, I really don’t want to be dragged into a slagging match with Darren’s family. ‘I can understand their grief, and I can understand their frustration.

‘But I am not the one to blame for that lad’s tragic death. Like them, I also want to find out why.

‘He had the world at his feet and had everything going for him. I will always be haunted by what he did.

‘And as far as the issue of contacting the family is concerned, I was specifically told by the police to not contact the family.

‘One of my first thoughts was to do just that.

‘I wanted to call his parents and tell them but I was instructed not to. I was told that there are procedures to be followed in such cases and one of them is that the next-of-kin be notified in person.

‘The police were concerned about somebody just finding out about their son dying over the phone.’

Frank Maloney.

Frank Maloney.

And he added: ‘Contrary to what has been said, I have tried to contact the family since Darren’s death and various meetings set up.

‘But I can’t fly, so it is impossible for me to go to Navan. If I could, I would be on the next plane to Dublin.

‘I have nothing to hide and I have acted in a proper and responsible manner.’

As to the incident six weeks ago outside a gay bar in Bromley, Maloney said: ‘I heard nothing about it at the time and have since been unable to find out any information about it.

‘The police do not have a record of it and I don’t believe it even took place.’

When asked if he was aware that Darren used to socialise in O’Neills bar in Bromley, he also said he did not believe that was the case.

His reaction to what friends of the boxer have said about his life in Bromley does, however, raise a question mark over whether or not Darren told his manager everything about his social life outside the boxing ring.

The crowd he hung out with in O’Neills included an award-winning kick boxer who Darren was close to. The rest of the group were described as ‘tough lads but decent types’.

One friend said: ‘They kept themselves to themselves in a corner of O’Neills by the TV. They would watch sport on it.

‘There was usually a big bunch of them, but more often than not you’d see Darren with the kick boxer. I got the impression they were very good friends.’

The same friend is the man who revealed details of a fight Darren is said to have tried to break up about six weeks ago – and in which he received a punch to the side of his face, which was already smarting from injuries sustained in a proferssional fight.

Maloney and his wife Tracey went for a Chinese meal two days before Darren died, and then they watched the X Factor on TV with him.

He said: ‘He asked if he could come back to the house and watch it on television.

‘After he left, he seemed in quite a happy mood.’

He was with sports psychologist Joe Dunbar when he turned up at Darren’s flat at 12 noon on the following Monday. Darren had not answered his phone, despite numerous attempts.

‘Thank heavens, I wasn’t on my own but I did walk in first,’ said Maloney. ‘I think I started talking to him, to be truthful. I’m sure I did. The next thing I knew the police were here and the paramedics were here. I think I broke down after that.’

The 55-year-old was later taken to hospital and tests later showed he had suffered a heart attack days previously.

This is believed to have happened in Brentwood, Essex, where one of his other fighters – John McDermott – was fighting.

If you need to speak to somebody urgently and in confidence, you should call The Samaritans.

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