The evidence stage of the long-awaited inquest into the death of Leon Briggs, more than seven years after his death, finished yesterday, and the Jury has been sent out to agree a conclusion.
The inquest, which was initially opened on 4 January, was held before Senior Coroner for Bedfordshire and Luton, Emma Whitting.
Leon Briggs was 39 years old when he died on 4 November 2013. He had been detained under the Mental Health Act (section 136), and died following restraint by Bedfordshire police officers at the scene and at Luton Police Station.
Leon, who was from Luton, was a father to two children. His family describe him as “a loving father, son and brother who was caring and genuine”.
The jury have been given the option to conclude that Leon’s death was an unlawful killing*, which is highly unusual in such a case. If they did return this conclusion it would be the first time a person’s death in police custody or contact had been found to be an unlawful killing for ten years.
The jury have also been given the option of reaching a conclusion of neglect* and will also consider the conduct of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.
Furthermore the jury has been asked to provide answers to a list of questions in a questionnaire, which will form part of their narrative conclusion.
*There are two routes to an unlawful killing verdict:
- Relating to the restraint of Leon Briggs by the police and whether this amounts to unlawful act manslaughter
- Relating to the care provided to Leon Briggs by the police and whether this amounts to gross negligence manslaughter
To reach a conclusion of neglect the jury would have to find that there was a gross failure (or failures) by the police to provide basic medical attention and there was a direct causal connection between the failures and his death.
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