London, September 5 : A septuagenarian man mistakenly declared dead eight years ago has been reunited with his family after his son spotted him by chance on a TV programme about missing people.
John Delaney, 71, went missing eight years ago, and due to spent the intervening years living in a care home using a different name because he could not remember his own due to amnesia caused by a head injury.
Staff at the care home, who called the old man David Harrison, have revealed that he retained a strong Irish accent from childhood and made regular references to "Tipperary" and "boxing".
Greater Manchester Police have apologised for an extraordinary series of errors that led to Delaney being declared dead, and an unidentified man being cremated in his place.
The badly-decomposed body that Delaney's son John Renehan cremated was wearing a pair of jeans and a green top similar to that of the missing man. It also had a number of healed fractures appearing to match the missing man's medical history.
However, no DNA tests were carried out and no dental records analysed.
Renehan was shocked when he spotted his father on a Crimewatch-style BBC programme known as Missing Live in April this year.
An engineer by profession, he has revealed that he saw the programme by chance because he was home during the day having worked night shifts.
"As I was turning away I got a glimpse of who I thought was my father. I was sure straight away, I was stomping up and down ... for the rest of the day I could not get to sleep. I was in shock," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
Renehan was among 50 people who claimed "Harrison" to be related to them.
He finally produced some photographs of his father before the police, which led to a DNA test that confirmed their relationship in July.
Renehan said: "My father is suffering from total amnesia still. I have been bringing him photographs and things are just starting to click I think."
As regards the body he cremated, Renehan said that he would often wake up at night wondering about him.
"I have got up, had a cup of tea and been thinking, 'Who was that person?' There is another family who are never going to know," he said.
A review of the case has been launched, and a separate inquiry will attempt to identify the man who was cremated.