First hearing in prosecution of Office of Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall

By agency reporter
July 4, 2018

The first hearing for the prosecution of the Office of the Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall police will take place on Wednesday 4 July 2018, after being adjourned unexpectedly in May 2018.
In April, the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to prosecute the Office of the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall police for an offence under section 3 of the Health and Safety Act, in relation to the death of Thomas Orchard in 2012, following his restraint by Devon and Cornwall Officers. The charges relate to the Force’s use of an Emergency Response Belt (ERB), the piece of equipment used to restrain Orchard.
Thomas Orchard was a fit and physically healthy 32 year-old church caretaker, living independently in supported accommodation at the time of his death. He had a history of mental illness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. On 3 October 2012 he was arrested and detained by Devon and Cornwall officers in Exeter City Centre following reports of his bizarre and disorientated behaviour.
He was transported by police van to Heavitree Road Police Station. Upon arrival, in addition to the triple limb restraints applied, an ERB, made from a tough impermeable webbing fabric, was put around his face. The ERB remained held around his face as he was carried face down to a cell where he was left lying unresponsive on a cell floor. By the time officers re-entered his cell, Thomas was in cardiac arrest. He was transferred to hospital and pronounced dead on 10 October 2012.

Custody Sergeant Jan Kingshott and Detention Officers Simon Tansley and Michael Marsden were charged with gross negligence manslaughter after Thomas died of asphyxia following a period of prolonged restraint in their custody. In March 2017, the jury at Bristol Crown Court found them not guilty.

In his evidence to the Court, Home Office pathologist Dr Delaney identified that Thomas’ death resulted from a struggle and period of physical restraint including a prolonged period in the prone position and the application of an Emergency Response Belt across the face resulting in asphyxia.

INQUEST is aware of just two other police related deaths resulting in prosecution of a police force on Health and Safety charges: Jean Charles de Menezes and Anthony Grainger. The latter were subsequently dropped.  INQUEST is not aware of any other case where a corporate prosecution has followed the prosecution of individual officers and civilian police staff.



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