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Finsbury Park ‘skull’ find man bids to clear name

Charity shop volunteer tells of ‘overreaction’ after being held by cops

12 July, 2019 — By Emily Finch

George Zavadsky, 79, a former chef from Finsbury Park, was arrested in May last year

A CHARITY shop volunteer whose home and car were cordoned off by police over the reported discovery of skeletal remains has spoken to the Tribune about how he intends to clear his name.

George Zavadsky, 79, a former chef from Finsbury Park, was arrested in May last year and held in a cell at Islington Police Station for 24 hours.

“It was a massive overreaction by the police. I told them they are wasting taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Mr Zavadsky explained this week how he had come across the skull while volunteering at a charity shop in Stamford Hill. He would not reveal the name of the shop.

“During the course of working there, you get all sorts of items donated. On this particular occasion it was a whole skull. They didn’t want it. I said, ‘don’t throw it away, I want it’ because I do car boot sales,” he said.

The self-confessed fan of the long-running series Murder, She Wrote, said he displayed the skull during a yard sale outside his home. “What happened was, I have a stand for jewellery.

I put the skull on the top but when I was putting the stand away the skull fell to the floor and it broke and the jaw came off,” he said. “I still wanted to sell it.

The two pieces became separated and I managed to sell it without the jaw. They were happy with it, the goths I sold it to. I wasn’t worried about it.”

When asked if it was a mon- key skull or a fake, Mr Zavad- sky said: “It wasn’t a monkey. I didn’t think it was real, I did- n’t think it was fake – I just took it as a skull. Since I’ve had that skull I’ve seen skulls everywhere in shops.”

He said he decided he didn’t need the jaw “two or three weeks later” and put it in a green recycling bag. “It seems it went to a tip somewhere where the council took it and someone noticed it showing out of the bottom of the bag, and they called the police,” he said.

“This was on the bank holi- day, [and] they tried to estab- lish where it was from. A num- ber of people said, ‘no it’s not from me’ but I said, ‘yes it is mine’. I had nothing to hide. They told me ‘you’re under arrest’ and I said, ‘what for?’.”

Mr Zavadsky was taken away in a police van after being arrested on suspicion of preventing a lawful burial, but has since been informed that no further action will be taken.

He said: “They took me to the police station in handcuffs – they even cordoned off next door. They cordoned off my blue van and they had a police guard standing outside.

“They put me in prisoner’s clothing, took my fingerprints, saliva and photograph before questioning me [about how I] came to be in the possession of a skull.”

He says he “didn’t under- stand” why officers kept him for 24 hours instead of waiting for the charity shop to open and question them to corrobo- rate his story.

As reported by the Tribune at the time, forensic scenes were set up at a refuse site in Edmonton and Hornsey Street recycling centre in Holloway. Mystery still surrounds who the skull belonged to, or if it was real to begin with, and exactly how it was reported to the police.

When the Tribune spoke to the Met this week a spokeswoman told us that they were called to Mr Zavadsky’s house on May 28 to “reports of possible skeletal remains found by a resident outside an address”.

They also added: “Despite extensive enquiries, officers have been unable to locate the alleged remains.”

A source close to the police investigation said the findings never came into the police’s possession.

The North London Waste Authority, which manages all waste centres, referred us back to the police for comment when we asked if it was a worker who had discovered the jaw bone.

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