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Kingsley Burrell inquest: Restraint 'contributed' to death

INQUEST VERDICT: Kingsley Burrell died aged 29, four days after being detained by police

NEGLECT AND delays by health staff, combined with prolonged restraint by police all contributed to Kingsley Burrell’s death, the jury concluded at the end of a six-week inquest.

The 29-year-old trainee security guard died on March 31, 2011, at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital four days after being detained under the Mental Health Act. He was forcibly restrained by means of rear cuffs, leg straps and threats of a taser for over four hours.

Last year the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute any of the police officers and NHS staff directly involved in his care.

There was applause from family and friends in the public gallery of Birmingham Coroner’s Court as the ten jurors delivered their damning narrative verdict after deliberating for two days.

They concluded that a covering – either a sheet or a blanket – had been placed over Kingsley’s head, despite the conflicting evidence from witnesses, and this was also a factor in his death.

And they agreed that it should have been removed by any of the professionals tending to Kingsley – ambulance staff, police, A & E staff or staff at the Oleaster mental health unit.

The jurors also recorded that Kingsley’s cause of death was due to “a cardiac arrest in a man with an acute behavioural disturbance following prolonged, prone restraint with a covering over his head or face, and struggle against restraint.”

Outside the court, the father-of-three’s sister Kadisha Brown-Burrell, who has led the family’s campaign for justice, said: “Although we had hoped for an unlawful killing verdict, we as a family welcome a narrative verdict because this gives us more scope.

“It’s time for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to look again at the people involved in Kingsley’s death.

“At the time I had known all along about the blanket covering Kingsley’s face but did not want to prejudice my brother’s case. All of the agencies who had sight of Kingsley or their hands on him are to blame.”

She added: “I want to see the police involved, sacked – we want some accountability. It has been heartbreaking in this inquest hearing how Kingsley was treated and to see the way these people lied to our face about what happened.

FIGHT FOR JUSTICE: Supporters outside Birmingham Coroner’s Court following the damning narrative verdict with Kadisha Brown-Burrell centre in red T-shirt

“There is a sense of relief today but we still have a long fight ahead of us. It does not end here.

“Kingsley’s children or any member of my family has still not received any counselling.

Desmond Jaddoo, one of the supporters of the Justice for Kingsley Burrell Campaign, said: “We demand that the CPS seeks to bring charges against all public employees in this matter of ‘misconduct in public office.’

“This has been an emotional rollercoaster for Kingsley’s family. The inquest has led to several questions being unanswered and the conduct of some of the witnesses in this matter is alarming.

“I intend to write to Home Secretary Theresa May and demand a public inquiry into Kingsley’s death so that some national changes and national standards can be set for vulnerable people who become involved in the mental health trap.

“We have concluded that had the police handled this in a different manner Kingsley would be alive today.”

Senior West Midlands Police officers met yesterday with family members and supports of Kingsley.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said the force was leading the way in a street triage scheme launched two years ago. Officers team up with psychiatric nurses and paramedics to treat people thought to be experiencing mental ill health.

“The triage teams provide on-the-spot assessments, often on the street or in private property, which has led to a dramatic drop in the number of people deemed necessary to detain under the Mental Health Act,” he said.

The force confirmed that following Kingsley’s death, four serving police officers were subject to an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation which recommended disciplinary proceedings.

A spokesperson said: “The four officers are not suspended; they continue to fulfil policing duties outside of the evidential chain. A misconduct hearing is fixed for the end of June.”

Meanwhile, Coroner Louise Hunt told the court she would be writing to the Home Office, the Secretary of State for Health, Ambulance Service chiefs and the College of Policing to make sure “lessons are learned from this tragedy.”

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