International manhunt over diver's hit-and-run death

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Synchronised diving partners Gavin Brown, right, and Blake Aldridge as teenagers Synchronised diving partners Gavin Brown, right, and Blake Aldridge as teenagers

An international police hunt is under way to trace a man wanted in connection with a hit-and-run incident which killed a Bradford sportsman who was once the diving partner of Olympian Blake Aldridge.

Gavin Brown, 22, of Cottingley, suffered severe head injuries when he was hit by a car in Southampton, where he was a student, in April last year.

Hampshire Police last night confirmed they were searching for 25-year-old Polish national Lukasz Banasik, whom, it is believed, has vital information about the incident.

Gavin’s mother Christine yesterday said her son’s single ambition had been to take part in the Beijing Olympics.

And she admitted that it had been a difficult experience watching his former synchronised diving partner Blake Aldridge, 26, compete with new diving partner 14-year-old Tom Daley earlier this week.

Mrs Brown said: “Gavin could have been there – there’s no doubt about that.

“Blake was his former partner so I obviously feel good for him and also for Tom, whom I don’t know. I remember when Gavin was 14 and we were so proud of him then.

“Blake and my son have travelled all over the world, so you couldn’t ever say that they have not had a fantastic life. But it was a dedicated life, like all sportspeople.”

A Hampshire Police spokesman said the investigation into Gavin’s death had been given the code-name Operation Rhone.

She said: “Officers involved with the investigation continue to seek information about the whereabouts of a 25-year-old Polish national, Lukasz Banasik. It is believed that Mr Banasik returned to Poland and has vital information about the collision with Mr Brown, who was a pedestrian.

“We are now in possession of a European Arrest Warrant and we are in liaison with police colleagues across Europe to try to locate him.”

Mrs Brown said while she appreciated police were doing all they could to catch the driver of the car which killed her son, she could not bring herself to think about any future criminal proceedings.

“The only thing I ever think what to ask the man who did it is why did he leave him in the road to die? I find that very difficult to deal with.

“People want closure about these things but I don’t think I will get any closure in my life, not just me but my whole family.

“It was just so awful because he had everything going for him. And although it is sad when I have to watch the Olympics, at the same time I’m really happy for everybody there, for Blake and all the girls there as well.”

Gavin, a former member of the Bradford Esprit diving club, had competed several times in the European Junior Diving Championships, winning a bronze medal in 1999.

He was also part of the Talented Athlete Network Development at Solent Univer-sity, where he was a criminology student.

An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned pending the completion of the police investigation.

Anyone with information should contact Operation Rhone at Eastleigh police station on 0845 0454545 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

e-mail: james.rush@telegraphandargus.co.uk

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