Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Relatives of Kirkcaldy custody death man Sheku Bayoh 'seek truth'

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Media captionMr Bayoh had a four-month-old baby boy and a three-year-old son by a previous partner

Relatives of a man who died in police custody in Kirkcaldy have said they are seeking the truth about what happened to him.

Sheku Bayoh, 31, was detained following an incident in Hayfield Road on 3 May but died in custody a short time later.

His family called for police officers who attended the incident to be suspended while an inquiry takes place.

The Scottish Police Federation criticised "speculation and innuendo" over how Mr Bayoh died.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner is carrying out an investigation into the death of Mr Bayoh, who had two young sons.

His relatives have claimed they have been told five different versions of what happened.

They spoke at a media conference in Edinburgh, hosted by their lawyer Aamer Anwar.

'Immediately suspended'

Mr Anwar said Mr Bayoh was a "well-liked, peaceful and healthy young man" who had no previous history of violence.

Mr Anwar said: "The family does not understand why the officers involved in engaging with Sheku Bayoh were not immediately suspended without prejudice after his death.

"It is a matter of wider public concern that officers remain at their desks or in contact with the public pending the outcome of the investigation into a death in custody."

Mr Bayoh's partner Collette Bell, who is mother to his four-month-old son, described Mr Bayoh as her "soulmate and best friend".

"He was kind, caring and affectionate, and had so many aspirations," she said.

"He was working hard to make a better future for our family and we had so much to look forward to.

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Image caption Sheku Bayoh's family spoke at a media conference hosted by their lawyer, Aamer Anwar

"I need answers as to why he was taken from me."

She added: "I want to know the whole truth of the circumstances surrounding his death so that one day I can explain to my son Isaac Bayoh why he has had to grow up without his daddy."

Responding to the comments, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), which represents rank-and-file officers, said it regretted that Mr Bayoh had died and recognised that his family was going through the "painful process" of mourning him.

But it said "innuendo and speculation" about how he died "adds nothing other than to the pain and grief of the family."

The federation's chairman, Brian Docherty, added: "The SPF does not wish to add to that pain by making unhelpful comments to the press. We are saddened that his legal representatives appear not to take the same approach.

"We are also saddened that his legal representatives are inferring police officers should not have the same legal protections as any other member of the public.

"A petite female police officer responding to a call of a man brandishing a knife was subject to a violent and unprovoked attack by a large male. The officer believed she was going to die as a result of this assault."

'Beggars belief'

Mr Anwar responded by saying the family were "deeply upset and disturbed" at the tone of the SPF statement.

He added: "It beggars belief that police officers as of yet have not spoken to Pirc yet the police federation are releasing details of what they believe to be the circumstances surrounding Mr Bayoh's death.

"The central issue in this case is one of how did Mr Bayoh die in police custody? That matter is still to be investigated."

Mr Bayoh's relatives have also met Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland.

A Crown Office spokesman confirmed: "The Lord Advocate met Mr Bayoh's family this morning when he offered his condolences for their loss. What was discussed at the meeting will remain confidential."

Mr Mulholland has instructed the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) to look at the case.

The police watchdog last week appealed for information from anyone who was in Hayfield Road between 07:00 and 08:00 on the day of the incident, which also resulted in a female police officer being injured.

Mr Bayoh, who worked for British Gas, also had a three-year-old son by a previous partner.

Pirc said a report on its findings will be submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in due course.

It said it was making good progress in its investigation and the public response to appeal for information had been very positive.

Pirc has also appointed dedicated family liaison officers to keep in close contact with the family of Mr Bayoh and their lawyer.

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