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Anger over Kingsley Burrell custody death verdict

FIGHT FOR JUSTICE: Kingsley Burrell was 29 years old when he died from cardiac arrest

CAMPAIGNERS HAVE expressed disappointment at a 'not guilty' verdict in the criminal trial of three police officers following the death of Birmingham dad-of-three Kingsley Burrell.

Burrell, 29, died from cardiac arrest in March 2011, four days after being detained by police.

West Midlands police officers Paul Adey, 37, Mark Fannon, 45 and Paul Greenfield, 51, were cleared of perjury and perverting the course of justice by jurors at Birmingham Crown Court.

Responding to the verdict Deborah Coles, Director of the charity INQUEST said:

“This verdict will further add to the disquiet and lack of confidence of bereaved families and the public in the mechanisms for holding the police to account for criminality and wrong doing.

VULNERABLE

"Kingsley was a vulnerable man who was restrained in a brutal and terrifying way resulting in his death in 2011. It is difficult to reconcile this outcome particularly in the face of the inquest evidence and conclusions.”

She added:

"The fact that a criminal jury decided this case is welcome, and itself justifies the prosecution, but the case was infected by delay at all stages and this outcome must be seen in that context. In the future such prosecutions must brought promptly when the evidence is fresh and not subject to prolonged delay.”

Burrell's relatives and supporters, including his sister Kadisha Brown-Burrell and mother Janet Brown, also expressed disappointment at the verdicts.

Speaking outside court, family spokesman Desmond Jaddoo called for a fresh review to be undertaken of all the evidence surrounding Burrell's death.

INQUIRY

The Birmingham-based campaigner also renewed earlier calls for a full public inquiry into the circumstances of Burrell’s treatment while in police custody and his subsequent death.

Jaddoo said:

"We now request that the Home Secretary now place our 2015 request for a public inquiry into these systemic failings back on the agenda, as promised, following the conclusion of these proceedings."

The charges related to evidence given during an inquest into Burrell's death in 2015. The inquest jury found that prolonged restraint had been a factor in Burrell's death, as well as failure to provide basic medical attention. It added a blanket that was put over his head should have been removed.

That inquest verdict led the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to ask the Crown Prosecution Service to review its decision to not bring criminal charges against the police officers involved in the case.

During the three-week criminal trial prosecution lawyers alleged the officers lied about a cloth being placed over the head of Burrell.


ANGER AT VERDICT: Burrell's sister Kadisha Brown-Burrell is among those calleing for a public inquiry

A number of witnesses said they saw Burrell's head or face covered with either a towel, sheet or blanket when he was placed in a seclusion room at Birmingham's Oleaster mental health unit.

Jurors deliberated for almost 10 hours before clearing the officers, who all denied both charges.

Following the verdict, West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said the role the officers played in Burrell's detention had been "thoroughly examined".

She added:

"There has never been any suggestion they were criminally responsible for Mr. Burrell's death.

IMPACT

"We do not underestimate the impact this investigation has had on Kingsley's family, the wider community and the officers; we share concerns that this investigation has taken such a length of time."

Responding to the family's call for a further review, the Crown Prosecution Service said:

"There remains insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any officers or medical health professionals involved in the restraint and treatment of Kingsley Burrell."

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