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Three police officers charged following custody death

Posted in: Criminal Injury and Assault Public Place Accidents Wrongful & Accidental Death 

Three police officers have been charged with manslaughter after a man collapsed in custody and died. 32-year-old Thomas Orchard collapsed while being held in a cell at Heavitree Road Police Station in Exeter not long after being arrested. He was immediately transported to hospital, where he died.  

Mr Orchard, a caretaker at St Thomas Church in Exeter, was arrested in October 2012 on suspicion of public order offence. He was taken to the local police station where he collapsed in a cell around one hour later. An ambulance took him to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where he died one week later.

Sgt Jan Kingshott and civilian detention officers Michael Marsden and Simon Tansley now face manslaughter charges. One charge alleges that the officers unlawfully killed Mr Orchard by the use of ‘unreasonable force’.  The second charge alleges that they unlawfully killed Mr Orchard through ‘gross negligence’. A final charge alleges that the three officers ‘acted with willful misconduct in relation to their dealings with Mr Orchard on 3 October 2012’.

“Difficult time for all of those involved”

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Thomas Orchard at this difficult time. The two-year long investigation that has followed has been difficult for all of those involved.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is still investigating whether the force has committed any other offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which could include corporate manslaughter.

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