BRIGHTON and Hove City Council has added its support to more than 41,000 voices calling for police to further investigate the death of Blessing Olusegun in Bexhill last year.

The council's announcement came on the day that Sussex Police issued a public statement in which it "strongly refutes" claims the 21-year-old carer's death had not been properly investigated because of her ethnicity.

Blessing Olugesun's body was found on Bexhill beach in the early hours of Friday, September 18, 2020.

She lived in Middle Park Avenue, London, but had been spending time in the Sussex town working as a carer.

The Argus: The body of Blessing Olusegun was found on Bexhill beach in September last yearThe body of Blessing Olusegun was found on Bexhill beach in September last year

Sussex Police have described her death as "unexplained", saying it is "non-suspicious" as there is "no evidence of third party involvement".

A petition called "Justice for Blessing Olugesun" was started five months ago. Today, it reached 40,000 signatures.

The petition states: "Blessing Olusegun was a 21-year-old business student from London. She came to Bexhill on a one week placement as a carer to help old people with dementia and other mental health issues.

"She was recently found dead on Bexhill beach near Galley Hill on Friday at 6.20am with her shoes and phone near her body, and the police are treating it as non-suspicious.

"Her mother, Esther Abe, is demanding to know why her beautiful daughter died on September 18. We need justice for Blessing and her family. What actually happened?"

The renewed calls for a further investigation into Miss Olusegun's death follow the suspected murder of Sarah Everard.

The body of Ms Everard, a marketing manager from Brixton, was found in a rural area near Ashford in Kent last week. Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnap and murder.

Yesterday, Brighton and Hove City Council issued a cross-party statement saying members were "deeply saddened and outraged at the circumstances surrounding the senseless and violent death of Sarah Everard".

Within this statement, the council said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Sarah at this incredibly difficult time.

"Our thoughts are also with the families of the many women and survivors who face the unacceptable consequences of gender-based violence and street harassment.

"In particular we add our support to the growing calls for police to further investigate the death of Blessing Olusegun who was 21-years-old when her body was discovered on a beach in East Sussex in September last year. Her death has been deemed as 'unexplained' by Sussex Police."

Following these calls for further investigation into Miss Olusegun's death, Sussex Police issued a statement yesterday evening.

A force spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Blessing Olusegun, a much-loved and popular 21-year-old woman and business student from South London. In September 2020, Blessing spent a week in Bexhill in East Sussex working as a carer.

"At 6.20am on Friday 18 September the body of a woman was found lying on the beach at Bexhill near Galley Hill. The body was identified that morning as that of Blessing and her next of kin, her mother, was visited and informed by Metropolitan Police officers later the same day.

"Sussex Police detectives attended and, with no immediate evidence of a crime, the coroner was notified and a police investigation launched. The investigation remains ongoing and, to date, police have carried out detailed enquiries to explore the circumstances leading to Blessing’s death."

Sussex Police says officers carried out a search of the area where Miss Olusegun was found, discovering her phone and slippers "piled neatly" about 300m away on the beach.

The force said officers also made enquiries in Bexhill to identify any potential witnesses, conducted interviews with people who last saw or spoke with Blessing and searched her room in Bexhill.

A forensic examination of her devices and a detailed review of her phone records is ongoing, police say.

CCTV from the area "showed Blessing walking to and entering the beach at about 1.30am".

"She was alone and no evidence of others being in the vicinity has been captured on CCTV."

Within the statement, Sussex Police also said that toxicology tests and a medical examination carried out by a pathologist found Miss Olusegun had died from drowning, and no evidence of violence or any internal or external injuries had been discovered.

"Because there is no evidence of third party involvement, Blessing’s death is described as 'non suspicious', a Sussex Police spokesman said.

"The coroner will decide on the facts of the case and determine how, when and where Blessing died.

"All evidence collated will be submitted to the coroner, who will set a date for an inquest in due course."

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Pippa Nicklin said: "I have spoken with Blessing’s mother and explained we remain absolutely committed to finding out the facts of what happened to Blessing. This is a very distressing time for her and we are keen to do everything we can so that hopefully she may gain some closure over the death of her much-loved daughter.

"Although there continues to be no evidence of a crime we are still carefully and fully examining all the circumstances leading up to Blessing's death, from her arrival in Bexhill, to her leaving the house where she was working and walking to the beach.

"It has been reported that we have not properly investigated Blessing’s death because of her ethnicity and we strongly refute these claims."