UK

Ian Tomlinson 'seemed drunk', G20 police officer says

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Media captionThe new footage was released as the inquest into Ian Tomlinson's death opened

A newspaper seller who died at the G20 protest in London appeared "very drunk" shortly before he was pushed to the ground, an ex-police officer has said.

Ian Tomlinson smelled of "intoxicants" and "was staring vacantly towards the demonstration", though without showing anger, a former City of London officer told the inquest into his death.

But Barry Smith, a colleague of Mr Tomlinson, insisted he was not drunk.

The jury also saw new footage of the moment the 47-year-old died.

"Throughout the day there had been a lot of people who had been very angry towards the police," Andrew Brown, the former police officer, said.

"But he just appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the riot was taking place."

Mr Brown said Mr Tomlinson "wasn't directing any anger towards me".

However Mr Smith, another newspaper seller, insisted Mr Tomlinson had not been drunk when he left to go home on the evening of 1 April 2009.

"I wouldn't have him sitting there drunk," he told the hearing.

"Even if he had a drink he was polite - a very polite man.

"He was a good man and I miss him."

Mr Smith also said he did not stand by a previous statement he made which said he "could tell Ian had had a few drinks, maybe more than normal" and described Mr Tomlinson as being "slightly unsteady on his feet".

Mr Tomlinson's family were among those in the court as a compilation of CCTV, helicopter footage and amateur recordings was shown.

The video captured the newspaper seller as he was shoved to the ground by an officer policing the demonstration.

One of his family left the courtroom as the images showed how he staggered some yards before falling.

Mr Tomlinson's widow, Julia, wiped away tears as footage from two hand-held cameras showed him being forced to the ground by the officer.

Wearing a Millwall FC T-shirt, Mr Tomlinson appeared to gesture to police after getting up.

Then he was seen walking unsteadily before collapsing.

More new imagery then showed him being attended to by officers and paramedics as he died in the road near a Starbucks cafe.

'Loved each other'

After watching the footage the jury was taken by bus for a five-minute tour of the area where he died.

The coroner told the jurors earlier that there had been a lot of people in the street because of the demonstration.

But he added: "Ian Tomlinson was not a protester, he was selling newspapers - the Evening Standard - in Fish Street."

Pc Simon Harwood will face a charge of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing that could see him dismissed by Scotland Yard but this will not take place until the inquest has ended.

Mr Tomlinson's widow Julia broke down several times as she read a statement to the hearing.

She said her husband had long spells away from the family home due to drinking problems, but "we loved each other, and neither of us wanted to separate or remarry".

"I still wear my wedding rings today and I never take them off," she added.

The couple had their first of four children together - Sam - in 1990, and married in 1991.

'Brilliant dad'

Mrs Tomlinson said: "I think he started turning to alcohol for relief after the time I got pregnant with Sam. I felt this was partly because of the pressure of his difficult upbringing and the family responsibilities he had taken on.

"For the first time in our relationship he started to disappear for short periods."

Image caption Ian Tomlinson collapsed minutes he was filmed being pushed to the ground by a Met Police officer

She added: "I would often go and find him and he would come back home."

The absences grew longer over the years, and Mrs Tomlinson said: "The last time we saw him at the family home was around November 2008.

"He was always welcomed back at the house by the children and by myself."

She described her late husband as a "brilliant dad", adding: "I must say we do miss him very much. He was a great part of our life."

The jury, which is sitting at the international dispute resolution centre in Fleet Street, was told the inquest will examine the actions of police, the pathologist and independent investigators.

The court also heard prosecutors may review the decision not to charge officers over Mr Tomlinson's death.

Judge Peter Thornton QC, who is sitting as assistant deputy coroner, said the cause of his death "was likely to be a controversial area".

The inquest continues.

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