Devon and Cornwall Police custody sergeant and detention officers cleared of manslaughter of Thomas Orchard
A Devon and Cornwall custody sergeant and two detention officers were today acquitted of manslaughter charges following an independent IPCC investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of 32-year-old Thomas Orchard in 2012.
A jury found PS Jan Kingshott, and detention officers Simon Tansley and Michael Marsden not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter after considering evidence at a six-week trial in Bristol Crown Court.
The IPCC investigator submitted a report in January 2016 which included his opinion that the three defendants, together with four other Devon and Cornwall Police officers who were involved in the arrest and restraint of Mr Orchard, have cases to answer for gross misconduct. The final decisions on whether there is a case to answer and whether disciplinary proceedings should be brought are currently under consideration.
IPCC Deputy Chair Sarah Green said: “The IPCC carried out a thorough investigation which led to the Crown Prosecution Service conducting these prosecutions. The jury found the defendants not guilty. Subsequent disciplinary proceedings are currently under consideration for the police officers and staff involved in the arrest and restraint of Mr Orchard.”
The IPCC continues to examine Devon and Cornwall Police’s corporate decision-making around the ERB. Investigators are conducting detailed analysis to fully understand the force’s policies and processes governing its use. In addition, an independent expert with a background in health and safety has been instructed in relation to this matter.
The IPCC identified a risk in the way that an emergency restraint belt (ERB) was used on Mr Orchard as a spit hood by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and wrote to all chief constables in England and Wales in November 2012. The letter expressed concern that use of an ERB in this way posed a risk to individuals.
The threshold of proof in misconduct proceedings is the same as a civil case, ie, ‘on the balance of probabilities’. The test for a case to answer is whether a reasonable tribunal, properly directed, could make a finding of misconduct/gross misconduct.