Mr Mather-Lees QC Defends Police Detention Officer

March 15 2017

This was the successful defence of a Police Detention Officer, who was jointly charged with unlawful act manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter.

The case concerned the death in custody of Mr Thomas Orchard, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Mr Orchard was arrested as he had been causing a disturbance in public. It was not known to the arresting officers that he had mental health problems.

On being taken into the police station an emergence response belt was placed over his face, to counteract a potential bite threat. He was carried to a cell, whilst he was in the belt and other mechanical restraints; thereafter he was searched and left prone in the cell.

Within 12 minutes Mr Orchard was seen not to be breathing, subsequent attempts to revive him succeeded in achieving a pulse, however, tragically there was very severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen.

The case involved detailed examination of police custody and restraint procedure and even further examination of the complex pathology of Mr Orchard’s death, which impacted on causation.