Church caretaker with mental health issues died due to police negligence when restrained by three officers who face manslaughter charges
Police negligence missed seven alerts
A 32-year-old man who died due to police negligence “tried to alert officers” to him whilst he was having medical problems, a jury heard.
Thomas Orchard, who worked as a church cleaner, had schizophrenia. He suffered a cardiac arrest at Heavitree Road Police Station in Exeter in 2012. Custody sergeant Jan Kingshott, 45, and civilian detention officers Simon Tansley, 39, and Michael Marsden, 56, deny manslaughter by gross negligence.
Bristol Crown Court showed CCTV of the time Mr Orchard spent in his cell. The court heard how Mr Orchard suffered a relapse of his mental illness. It was during this relapse the police arrested him, on Sidwell Street, on suspicion of a public order offense.
Unconscious because of police negligence
He was found unconscious at Heavitree Road Police Station in Exeter. Mr Orchard died seven days later in hospital. Mr Orchard’s legs were in straps for more than four minutes. An emergency response belt placed around his head for five minutes, the court heard.
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Emergency response belt misused by officers
Thomas Orchard had an Emergency Response Belt applied over his face which covered his nose and mouth, the court heard. The court heard these belts are designed for restraining detainees around the body. But are occasionally used to prevent spitting or biting.
One defendant, Mr Kingshott said it was used because Mr Orchard was a danger and made threats to bite. Mr Kingshott said he had monitored Mr Orchard in the cell via a CCTV screen in his office.
Officers deny manslaughter
Sgt Jan Kingshott and civilian detention officers Michael Marsden and Simon Tansley deny manslaughter by gross negligence. The prosecution says Mr Orchard made “sporadic shouts” seven times with words believed including “let go”. Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told the court: “What you don’t see is a man fighting. He said nothing, he did nothing”. “We invite the conclusion that he wasn’t in a position to do anything as a result of what he’d been subjected to by those detaining him”.
The jury heard a pathologist found the use of the belt was neither the main or sole factor in Mr Orchard suffering a cardiac arrest. However, it was a “contributing factor”.
The trial continues.