British Police Cleared Over Death of Mentally Ill Church Caretaker

A custody sergeant and two detention officers have been found not guilty of killing a church caretaker with mental health problems.

Thomas Orchard, 32, died in hospital seven days after being arrested and brought to Heavitree Road police station in Exeter, Devon, in October 2012.

Mr Orchard, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was held down, handcuffed and a large fabric webbing belt designed to restrain arms and legs was placed across his face.

Custody sergeant Jan Kingshott, 44, and civilian detention officers Simon Tansley, 38, and Michael Marsden, 55, insisted their actions were proportionate and lawful.

Today, after a five-week trial, a jury at Bristol Crown Court has acquitted all three men. After deliberating for almost seven days, the trio were cleared of unlawfully killing Mr Orchard by gross negligence, by breaching their duty of care to him as a detainee.

The retrial heard how Mr Orchard, who worked as a cleaner at his local church in the St Thomas area, was experiencing a mental health crisis when he was arrested for a public order offence at around 11am on Sidwell Street on October 3.

He had not taken his medication for seven days and told a mental health professional he believed he was a vampire and should stay inside during the day.

Mr Orchard was dealt with by seven police officers and fully mechanically restrained – with handcuffs and straps around his legs – before being placed in a small police van. Bristol Crown Court heard that Mr Orchard should not have been placed in the van as it was too small for non-compliant detainees.

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Source: Plymouth Herald UK