The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has charged three officers involved with the death of Kingsley Burrell – who died after a period of prolonged restraint in 2011 – with perjury and perverting the course of justice.
Burrell, a 29-year-old black man detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act, died on March 31, 2011, following a prolonged restraint by police, which was compounded by a series of failures by medical staff to provide basic medical care.
In May 2015, an inquest into his death recorded a finding of neglect, amidst a raft of critical findings, including that unlawful force was used by police and that this contributed to Kingsley’s death.
The CPS have now charged three of the officers involved – constables Paul Adey, Mark Fannon and Paul Greenfield – with Burrell’s death with perjury and perverting the course of justice, and they will appear in the Magistrate’s Court on October 31. The charges relate to accounts given in witness statements and evidence given on oath by these officers at the inquest.
The officers, based at Birmingham West and Central, have been suspended by West Midlands Police following these charges.
Previously, the CPS had declined to charge any police officers or medical staff with any offences arising directly from Kingsley’s death. They were also asked to review that decision in light of the evidence heard at the inquest but have now indicated that they stand by their original decision on the basis that no new evidence has come to light.
Burrell’s family welcomed the decision to prosecute the three officers “in the belief that they must be publicly held to account for their actions in the circumstances surrounding the death of Kingsley.
“This has been a long time coming and the fight for Justice for Kingsley continues.”
Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST, said: “Whilst [the] charges are welcome the [inquest] jury’s findings were that Kingsley died as a result of neglect and unreasonable force in the care of the police and hospital staff. It is therefore difficult to reconcile the CPS’ decision not to bring other significant charges.”
Carolynn Gallwey, who represented Burrell’s children and their mothers at the inquest, said: “It is heartening to hear that the CPS has finally decided to prosecute three officers for giving dishonest accounts of their role in Kingsley’s death, to the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] and under oath to the inquest; and this should send a warning to police that the public expect them to act with absolute integrity in these situations.
“However, the inquest into Kingsley’s death also heard evidence, day after day, of how Kingsley was subjected to casual violence and neglect whilst supposedly in the care of the state. The jury concluded that this treatment was unlawful and caused his death. In spite of this, and in spite of the doubt that now attaches to these officers’ accounts the CPS say that there is no evidence which allows them to prosecute anyone for the circumstances of the death. That is not a decision that we feel should stand.”