Two arrested as remains of man found in pond identified by police

Two men have been arrested after the remains of a 59-year-old man were found in a pond in Essex.

Essex Police announced on Tuesday that the remains had been discovered in Oakwood Pond in Harlow on New Year’s Eve and were likely to have been there for “weeks”.

The force said on Thursday that they had been identified as belonging to Phillip Lewis, 59, from Harlow, who was known to his friends as “Scottish Phil”.

Police arrested a 52-year-old man on suspicion of murder and a 23-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder on Wednesday evening. Both remained in custody.

The force said officers were continuing to drain the pond and search the surrounding area, adding that it was “really important to identify potentially vital evidence”.

A local man, Paul, who did not wish to give his last name, said his dog Brandy had found the body parts in the pond.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “It was my dog with my son-in-law and they were at the pond, and the dog pulled him down towards the water.

“(My son-in-law) thought he was going for the ball because the ball was in the water.

“But no, he went through the water and stopped dead, you know how dogs do, and there were two body parts.”

Oakwood Pond human remains – Harlow
Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby updates the media gathered outside Harlow police station (Aaron Chown/PA)

Paul said the dog had found a pelvis as well as another body part.

He said his son-is-law was “quite upset about it all”, adding: “It was a gruesome find.”

“It is not nice at all, especially for all who live around here – especially for my neighbour who knew him, which is even worse,” Paul said.

“I don’t know him but I know he was quite a likeable fellow.”

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby said: “I want to extend my condolences to Phil’s friends and family and reiterate my commitment to them that we will work relentlessly to bring those responsible for his murder to justice.

“This has been a fast-paced investigation and we have worked quickly to make arrests, but our work does not stop there.

“A team of dedicated specialist detectives are continuing to work around the clock to give Phil’s friends and families the answers they need about what happened to him and why.”

Mr Kirby said that police needed the public’s help, adding: “I want to thank the community here in Harlow for their support and understanding.

“I know this investigation has caused shock and concern, but we don’t believe there is an ongoing risk to the wider public.”

He appealed to people to check their CCTV doorbell footage going back to the beginning of November, and asked for anyone who had come into contact with Mr Lewis or regularly visited the pond and surrounding area in the last two months and seen anything suspicious to come forward.

“Any information you have, no matter how insignificant you believe it is, could be vital for our investigation,” he said.

Members of the public were asked to call the dedicated hotline on 0800 051 4526 or submit information online at mipp.police.uk/operation/4201020122Q39-PO1.