Devon

Thomas Orchard: Family 'failed' by police hearing

Thomas Orchard Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Thomas Orchard was found unconscious in a cell and later died in hospital

Four police officers involved in the detention and restraint of a mentally ill man who later died will not face gross misconduct proceedings.

Thomas Orchard, 32, died seven days after having an emergency response belt placed across his face in October 2012.

A disciplinary panel has concluded the four Devon and Cornwall officers could not get a fair hearing and dismissed the misconduct charges.

Parents Ken and Alison Orchard said they had been "failed beyond belief".

They said they "never really had any faith in this tribunal", chaired by Assistant Chief Constable Ben Snuggs, of Hampshire Police.

"As a family we used to believe in the system; we believed that if something bad happened, justice would be served."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Thomas Orchard was found unconscious at Heavitree Road Police Station

A panel found that the delays in the case had been "excessive and unjustified" for both the family and the officers concerned.

Andrew Berry, chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation said the federation has called for an investigation looking into "what went wrong with disclosure" and "how the disciplinary case could drag on for seven years"."

In May 2019 Devon and Cornwall Police was sentenced and fined £234,500 for health and safety breaches in relation to the belt used.

Judge Julian Lambert ruled he could not be sure the belt placed around Mr Orchard's face contributed to his death in April 2019.

On 3 October 2012 Mr Orchard who suffered with paranoid schizophrenia was arrested for shouting at members of the public and transported to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital after being resuscitated.

The ERB was placed across his face for five minutes and two seconds to prevent spitting or biting.

He was declared dead seven days later on 12 October.

Two civilian staff are still facing disciplinary proceedings.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The emergency response belt was placed across Thomas Orchard's face after his arrest in 2012

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