Family beg for answers as soldier found dead in river after being punched for getting into wrong car

Charlie Saywell, 25, was found dead in River Medway  (Kent Police)
Charlie Saywell, 25, was found dead in River Medway (Kent Police)

A young soldier found dead after a night out may have been assaulted after getting into the wrong car, police have said.

Charlie Saywell, 25, was pulled out of a river in Kent earlier this month, shortly after telling a friend he had been punched in the face. Now his family is asking for witnesses to his last moments to come forward.

Police are looking for the driver or anyone who witnessed an altercation near the mystery vehicle in Chatham High Street.

Mr Saywell, described as a gentle giant, was out with friends before taking a taxi back to his home in Brompton. But instead of going to bed it is thought he walked to Chatham town centre between 12.10am and 2.40am to get food from a fast food takeaway.

Spotted walking past Primark and entering a fast-food takeaway in this period he rang a friend which led officers to believe he may have been assaulted after he mistakenly got into an unidentified car.

Detectives believe he was assaulted by the driver and suffered facial injuries.

Mr Saywell’s body was recovered from the River Medway, near Main Gate Road, Chatham at 10.46am the next day Tuesday 5 March.

The Medway town of Chatham
The Medway town of Chatham

Charlie’s mother, Victoria Brown, said: “If you have witnessed my son Charlie’s movement during the early hours of that morning and can offer any information, however small, please can you contact Kent Police so our family can have some answers about what happened to him.”

Friend Joe Leishman paid tribute to Mr Saywell on a GoFundMe page looking to raise £1,000 for his funeral costs.

He wrote: “For those of you that weren’t lucky enough to meet or know our Charlie, he was a gentle giant. He was a huge role model and a massive part of my life.

“I looked up to Charlie both physically and mentally and he sadly passed away recently at the age of 25.”

Det Sgt Karen Caulfield, leading the investigation, said Kent Police weren’t treating his death as suspicious at this stage.

She said: “While we do not have specific information about where Charlie went between 12.10am and 2.40am, he had a phone conversation before his death which indicated he may have suffered an assault in the town during that period.

“We are appealing to anyone who may have seen Charlie walking in the Gillingham and Chatham areas during these times.

“We are particularly keen to hear from anybody who saw him in a fast-food outlet or involved in an altercation in or near to a car.

“At this stage we are not treating Charlie’s death as suspicious, however, it is important we understand where he visited and what happened to him prior to his tragic death.”

Mr Saywell was last seen wearing a dark navy coloured short sleeved t-shirt, khaki coloured cargo trousers and white trainers.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Kent Police appeal line on 01634 792209, quoting reference 46/36226/24. Drivers with dashcam and residents or businesses with private CCTV are also asked to check for relevant footage.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or complete their online form.