David Crossland’s whole family died beside him on a holiday flight to Yugoslavia in September 1966. His wife Daphne, and their young children Kevin and Lynne were killed when their plane crashed in the woods as it was approaching the airport in Ljubljana.
David, who was sitting across the aisle from his wife and children, crawled to safety from the burning wreckage.
In the decades that followed, David suffered from long-term leg injuries and survivor guilt but managed to build a new life. He remarried and had another son and daughter.
He met his second wife, Liisa, when she was helping to nurse him as he recovered in a hospital in London.
David died of cancer in 2001. He never knew that at that time an undercover police officer was using the name Kevin Crossland – the five-year-old son David had lost in the plane crash.
Liisa Crossland remembers her husband once telling her that he had heard from his police acquaintances that some officers would adopt the identities of dead children.
It was a practice used by the assassin in the 1970s Fredrick Forsyth thriller, The Day of the Jackal, later a film.
Liisa says she has felt enormous anger for the two years since the family was first informed about the use of Kevin’s name by police.
“How can someone stoop so low? My husband is not here to fight for the truth. But on behalf of him and my family, I want to get to the bottom of the way Kevin’s identity was used,” she said.
Liisa and David’s son, Mark – whose middle name is Kevin in memory of the brother he never knew – describes it as “the most irresponsible thing the officer could have done.