Investigation under way into death of man in custody in Torquay

Published: 08 Jun 2020

The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) investigation into the death of a 35- year-old man in Torquay custody suite is continuing.

Simeon Francis was found unresponsive in his cell on Wednesday 20 May. An ambulance was called but he was sadly pronounced dead at around 6pm.

Mr Francis was arrested at around 00.45 am the same day in Cowley Bridge Road, Exeter and then transported by police van to Torquay Police Station where he was booked into custody at around 3am.

Our investigation follows a mandatory referral from Devon and Cornwall Police.

Regional Director Catrin Evans said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Francis’ family and friends following his death. We will be keeping his family updated during the course of our independent investigation.

“Our investigators have begun gathering evidence and statements from officers. We are analysing a considerable amount of CCTV footage from the custody suite. We are looking at the level of care provided during the period of detention, including the frequency and adequacy of checks carried out.”

The coroner has been informed and a preliminary post-mortem examination has been held, which did not identify a cause of death. Further tests will be carried out. An inquest into Mr Francis' death was opened and adjourned by HM Coroner for Plymouth on Friday (5 June).

When someone dies in police custody or following police contact, the force involved must refer the matter to us to assess whether we should investigate what has happened. Our role is to seek answers about what happened and share any learning highlighted by our investigations.

  • Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Custody and detention
  • Death and serious injury