Greek police reopen investigation into death of British mother


Greek detectives have reopened the investigation into the death of a British mother who washed up on a beach in Crete 12 years ago.

Jean Hanlon had moved to the island in 2005 and stayed for three consecutive summers before wintering there for the first time in 2008.

But in March 2009, after sending a friend a text that read ‘HELP’, her body was discovered in capital Heraklion’s harbour without hair or eyes.

At first it was considered a tragic accidental drowning, but a post-mortem later revealed injuries consistent with a struggle.

Her three sons – Robert, 46, David, 43, and Michael, 36 – have been campaigning for justice for Jean ever since.

Jean Hanlon with her son Michael

Jean Hanlon with her son Michael

Jean Hanlon with her son Michael

Greek detectives have reopened the investigation into the death of British mother Jean Hanlon (pictured with son Michael) who washed up on a beach in Crete 12 years ago

Michael, who lives in Bromley, south London, said on on Sunday: ‘Finally I can share the most amazing news that mum’s case has been reopened for the third time.

‘After a year of exploring and pursuing a new direction, it is with great joy and happiness to say that it has paid off and delivered the outcome we wanted.

‘This puts the case in a better place as mum at last will get the proper full investigation, with a new more professional and experienced department that she so rightly deserves.

‘We have been here before but this time really is a big breakthrough and potentially groundbreaking’. 

Michael said the case had previously been shelved three times, meaning Greek police would not investigate unless new evidence was discovered. 

He described this as ‘very frustrating’ because ‘if no one is actively investigating they weren’t going to find any new evidence’. 

In March 2009, after sending a friend a text that read 'HELP', Ms Hanlon's body was discovered in capital Heraklion's harbour without hair or eyes. Pictured: Jean Halon with her son Michael

In March 2009, after sending a friend a text that read 'HELP', Ms Hanlon's body was discovered in capital Heraklion's harbour without hair or eyes. Pictured: Jean Halon with her son Michael

In March 2009, after sending a friend a text that read ‘HELP’, Ms Hanlon’s body was discovered in capital Heraklion’s harbour without hair or eyes. Pictured: Jean Halon with her son Michael

But he said the family had gone down a ‘different route’ which led to Greek officials giving the green light to re-open the case.  

‘It is very positive and a decision we welcomed with open arms. I can’t fully go into detail as I don’t want to jeopardise the case.

‘Let’s just say mum’s case will get the thorough investigation she rightly deserves.’

Robert and David still live in Dumfries, South West Scotland, where the British mother had lived all her life until she decided to relocate to Crete.

Her body was discovered on March 13, 2009, four days after she disappeared.  

She had sent a friend a text message asking for help, but a man she was seen with has never been traced.

Jean's three sons - Robert, 46, David, 43, and Michael, 36 - have been campaigning for justice for Jean ever since

Jean's three sons - Robert, 46, David, 43, and Michael, 36 - have been campaigning for justice for Jean ever since

Jean’s three sons – Robert, 46, David, 43, and Michael, 36 – have been campaigning for justice for Jean ever since

Her sons flew out to Crete to identify her body and were told that her death was an accident, possibly caused by her slipping and falling into the water after drinking alcohol. 

But a post-mortem examination later revealed she had suffered serious injuries including shattered ribs, a punctured lung and facial wounds.

The former hospital secretary, who worked in bars and tavernas on the island, had met up with a Scottish friend on the day of her disappearance.  

The woman told police that Ms Hanlon had said a car had been following her.

That evening a Belgian friend called Ms Hanlon, who said she was in a cafe in Heraklion with a stranger who did not speak English and ‘was a bore’. 

Later, they received the text that said HELP, but she assured them she was OK. Later that night, she rang again but the friend was asleep and did not answer.

After her badly decomposed body was found, her sons looked through Jean’s belongings, which included a diary.  



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