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‘I will never forgive them’: Police apologise to family of Henry Hicks five years after Islington teenager’s crash death

PUBLISHED: 14:32 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:37 05 February 2020

The shrine where Henry Hicks died in a police chase in Islington. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson

The shrine where Henry Hicks died in a police chase in Islington. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson

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Police have paid compensation to the “broken” family of a young man from Angel who died while being followed by officers.

Henry Hicks had grown up in Islington and was on a carpentry apprenticeship when he died. Picture: SuppliedHenry Hicks had grown up in Islington and was on a carpentry apprenticeship when he died. Picture: Supplied

Henry Hicks, 18, died of head injuries when his moped crashed in Wheelwright Street, next to Pentonville Prison off Caledonian Road, on December 19, 2014.

At the time of the death Henry was being followed by police officers who suspected him of dealing drugs.

Henry had been stopped and searched by officers 89 times in the previous three years - but never faced any criminal charges, his inquest later heard.

For the first time since Henry's death the Met has issued the family with a written apology for the "excessive" and unlawful use of stop and search against him.

Thousands of protesters descended on Islington Police Station in 2015. Dieter PerryThousands of protesters descended on Islington Police Station in 2015. Dieter Perry

They also received an undisclosed sum of compensation from the Met,

Speaking to the Gazette ahead of what would have been Henry's 24th birthday, mum Dione Hicks said: "The trauma they caused broke my family.

"This is the first time we've received a formal apology; I think they thought it could be brushed under the carpet. I find it horrible that it has taken this long.

"I will never forgive them for what they did. But there's nothing more we can do now. I don't think we can go any further with this."

Henry's mother said the family was still Henry's mother said the family was still "broken" by the loss of Henry, one of four siblings. Picture: Hannah Somerville

The family and solicitors from Bhatt Murphy, a law firm specialising in the protection of civil liberties, met with Met representatives in October last year.

The apology letter was penned by Commander Catherine Roper, of the force's Directorate of Professional Standards, who also became the Islington borough commander shortly after Henry's death.

She wrote: "I acknowledge that in the years 2011-2014, while Henry was still a child, he was subjected to repeated stops and searches and that many of them have been found to be unlawful.

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"It is also right to acknowledge that there is evidence officers spoke to Henry in an unprofessional and unacceptable way, and on occasions used inappropriate force - for which I also offer my apologies."

While Henry was alive his family had contacted the MPS expressing alarm at how frequently he was being targeted.

In June 2016 an inquest jury found Henry was fleeing two officers in unmarked cars travelling at speeds of more than 50mph when he came off his bike.

But in June 2017 a panel cleared four Met officers of gross misconduct, ruling they were not technically in a police pursuit at the time.

After the crash Henry was found to be carrying seven bags of skunk cannabis and multiple phones. The family say they were only told that police had found drugs two months after Henry's death.

In the apology letter last year, Cdr Roper also acknowledged the family's complaint that officers at the scene were, she said, "insensitive and unhelpful".

In the aftermath of the death, she noted, reports were made to the MPS of officers behaving "in a hurtful and unprofessional way" towards members of the family.

Three incidents were investigated and one led to management action being taken against an officer.

"There should have been an immediate and prompt apology," Ddr Roper wrote. "That did not happen… I take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for the treatment you received."

This Sundayfriends and loved ones will gather at a memorial shrine near where Henry died in Wheelwright Street, to mark what would have been his 24th birthday.

The Henry Hicks Foundation, a charity set up in his name in 2015, has so far helped around 10 bereaved families meeting funeral costs and getting counselling.

In December 2016, Henry's parents also welcomed their first grandchild to the family: a baby boy, now three, who is also called Henry.

"We are getting on because we have to," his mum said. "But there is still suffering. Some days, it's like it happened yesterday."


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