Police officers ‘stood over vulnerable man and watched him die while commenting that he was out cold’

The Daily Mail

 

How strange!

No sooner do I put a story on here about the 1460 people who have died while in Police custody and how no officer has ever been convicted of any of those deaths (Click here), than this one appears.

Strange how the death of Colin Holt occurred in August 2010 yet it has only come to court now.

Stranger still how on finding Mr Holt, a fight started between him and the 2 accused officers, who immediately called for back up, yet despite Holt being dead by the time back up arrived, the officers have only been charged with Misconduct in Public Office.

So whatever the verdict. No police officer will still have ever been convicted of one of those deaths. 

British Justice at its very fucking normal best.

 

  • Paranoid schizophrenic Colin Holt, 52, suffocated to death at Gillingham flat
  • Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery charged with misconduct in public office
  • Maidstone Crown Court hears they acted with ‘reckless indifference’
  • Leigh alleged to have shouted: ‘I wouldn’t bother. He’s out cold’

By STEVE ROBSON

PUBLISHED: 17:08, 24 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:56, 24 April 2013

 

Two police officers allowed a vulnerable man to suffocate and die in front of them without trying to help, a court has heard.

PCs Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery, of Kent Police, have pleaded not guilty to misconduct in public office over the death of paranoid schizophrenic Colin Holt in August 2010.

Maidstone Crown Court that police had been called to the 52-year-old’s flat in Gillingham, Kent, to bring him back to hospital as he was subject to a Mental Health Act order.

PC Maurice Leigh
PC Neil Bowdery

On trial: Kent police officers Maurice Leigh, left, and Neil Bowdery, right, are accused of misconduct in public office after a mentally ill man suffocated and died in front of them

The jury were told today that Leigh, 54, and Bowdery, 29, acted with ‘reckless indifference’ towards Mr Holt by failing to reposition him and check on his welfare after he had been involved in a struggle with officers.

 

Prosecutor Duncan Penny as police constables, both officers ‘owed a duty of care’ to Mr Holt when they detained him.

Two days before his death, Mr Holt was admitted to the Medway Maritime Hospital and detained there for assessment under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

But some 48 hours later, Mr Holt – who was on medication for his condition – went missing, prompting police to check his flat to return him to hospital.

Leigh failed to get a response from pressing his buzzer but was eventually let into the block of flats where Mr Holt lived by another resident.

After knocking on Mr Holt’s door and getting no answer, Leigh let himself and a colleague in through the unlocked door and found him sitting in an armchair.

Mr Holt pretended he was someone else but when he was asked to produce a passport proving his identity, he became aggressive towards the officers.

A struggle ensued, during which a fish tank cracked and water leaked out. Mr Penny said Mr Holt threw Leigh’s colleague, Pc Reeves, towards a television, causing both men to lose their footing and land on the floor.

Emergency back-up was requested and Mr Holt was eventually handcuffed with his hands kept behind his back and brought up to an armchair so he could not lash out again.

Allegations: The jury at Maidstone Crown Court were told the officers showed 'reckless indifference' for the welfare of Colin HoltAllegations: The jury at Maidstone Crown Court were told the officers showed ‘reckless indifference’ for the welfare of Colin Holt

Other officers, including Bowdery, arrived at the property and Mr Holt was seen to be handcuffed and leaning over an armchair, the court heard.

At one point, as an officer shouted out to Mr Holt asking where the fuse box was, Leigh is said to have replied with words to the effect of: ‘I wouldn’t bother, he’s out cold.’

Mr Penny also said that Bowdery claimed that Mr Holt was ‘pretending to be unconscious’.

‘You will have to consider whether in the period leading up to that remark, Pc Bowdery was in reality neglecting his duty,’ Mr Penny told jurors.

‘Given the position in which Mr Holt had been being restrained – that is, face down into the chair – such an observation indicates that Mr Holt was not being cared for in the way he should have been.’

As another officer got closer to Mr Holt, he noticed that he had vomited and appeared lifeless. The officer, Pc Brett, shouted: ‘F***, who was checking on him?’

Mr Penny said: ‘Those words, of course, have their own significance.

‘Pc Brett, at least, appears to have been well aware of the ongoing duty to check on the welfare of a man detained and restrained in the way Mr Holt was.’

Pc Brett laid unconscious Mr Holt on the floor face down and removed his handcuffs before attempts were made to clear his vomit-clogged airways.

Paramedics administered CPR for about 20 minutes but their efforts were to prove in vain.

Mr Penny said that police investigators arrived to conduct a forensic examination of the flat.

Interviewed under caution on January 26 last year, Bowdery declined to answer any questions but read a prepared statement instead.

In it, he said he did not believe there was ever a time when Mr Holt was face down in the cushion and that he saw no time when he was in distress.

Bowdery said he did not think it sensible to reposition Mr Holt on the floor because of the water from the cracked fish tank and because the room was cramped.

The officer also denied saying that he thought Mr Holt was ‘pretending to be unconscious’. He said that he helped remove his handcuffs when it became clear Mr Holt was in difficulties.

Leigh, when interviewed under caution on January 25, 2012, also read a statement in which he denied remarking that Mr Holt was ‘out cold’.

The pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination concluded that Mr Holt appeared to have struggled against restraint ‘for some time’.

He said: ‘The position in which he was restrained with his abdomen and chest against the chair whilst kneeling on the floor is likely to have compromised his ability to breathe as a result of interference with abdominal and chest movements.’

Mr Holt’s cause of death was given as positional asphyxiation.

Mr Penny said the officers’ conduct fell so far below acceptable standards that it amounted to ‘an abuse of the public’s trust’ in them.

He said: ‘Neither officer is accused of being responsible for his death. But each is accused of the offence of misconduct in a public office.

‘Because, as they stood over him, having detained him following a struggle, each neglected his duty, each failed to take reasonable and proper care of him and, through that neglect, though plainly not with that intention, allowed him to die in front of them without taking action to seek to prevent it.’

The trial continues.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2314140/Colin-Holt-case-Police-officers-Maurice-Liegh-Neil-Bowdery-stood-vulnerable-man-watched-die.html#ixzz2RRNiI8IH
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