Police played a part in Highbury man’s death, inquest finds

Darren Neville

Darren Neville - Credit: Archant

Police officers who handcuffed and bound a man suffering a mental health crisis were one of the causes of his death, an inquest has found.

Police officers who handcuffed and bound a man suffering a mental health crisis were one of the causes of his death, an inquest has found.

Darren Neville, 28, died at the Whittington Hospital on May 5, 2013, nearly two months after suffering a cardiac arrest while being restrained by police.

Mr Neville, who was suffering an acute behavioural disturbance, was immediately tackled by police when they arrived in Aberdeen Park, Highbury, to find him running around in his boxer shorts covered in blood.

When questioned at an inquest into his death officers said they had no choice but to approach Mr Neville and restrain him, but yesterday a jury decided that the police had not given “sufficient consideration” to the “risk of death following prolonged restraint”.

The verdict contradicts the findings of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who also looked in to Mr Neville’s death and his family have now called for a new investigation to take place to prevent the police from making the same mistakes.

Mr Neville’s mother, Carol, said: “The outcome of this inquest is so important to us for highlighting failures which we have always known to be the case.

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“This is not the first investigation into Darren’s death but the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) failed to pick up on these issues.

“We call upon the IPCC to take notice of the inquest finding and review their conclusions.”

In court the jury were shown CCTV images of Mr Neville smashing a window at the front door of the hostel where he lived and diving through it causing several deep cuts on his body.

Officers struggled with him on the pavement before managing to apply handcuffs and leg restraints, which the jury heard can lead to the sudden death of someone suffering an acute behavioural disturbance.

The jury decided that the “prolonged restraint and struggle” placed “significant physiological stress” on Mr Neville’s body and that coupled with his history of cocaine use and the cocaine in his system at the time, had caused the cardiac arrest.

Lack of oxygen to his brain caused a catastrophic brain injury which he eventually died from in hospital.

“Police did not give sufficient consideration to the risks associated with prolonged restraint to a person suffering from acute behavioural disturbance,” the verdict read, “more specifically, the risk of death following prolonged restraint.

“It is unclear the extent to which this single factor caused Darren’s death.”

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Neville’s brother Louis, said: “I feel strongly that my brother would still be alive today if officers from Islington Police Station who arrived at the scene had adequate training and knowledge on how to respond correctly to someone in need.”

Coroner Mary Hassle said she would be filing a prevention of future deaths report to send to the Met regarding the incident.

Rajeev Thacker, barrister for the family from Garden Court Chambers, said: “Avoidable deaths under or following police restraint will continue unless police officers place a much greater emphasis on the vital importance of avoiding restraint if at all possible, when encountering someone suffering from an acute behavioural disturbance.

“Restraint must be a matter of last resort in these circumstances and not an action by default.”

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