IOPC criminal investigation after Leicestershire death in custody

Published: 19 Oct 2023

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating three Leicestershire Police officers and four police staff over their decisions and actions prior to a man being found dead in his cell.

Sebastian Zarnoch, aged 30, was initially arrested on 3 September in connection with the kidnapping of Gabriela Kosilko and detained at Keyham Lane Police Station. The following day he was further arrested for the murder of Ms Kosilko. He was found unresponsive in his cell shortly after 10am on 6 September and his death was pronounced there a short time later. 

All seven police officers and staff have now been advised they are under criminal investigation for the possible offence of misconduct in public office. Three are police officers who have also been served with gross misconduct notices for potential breaches of police standards for professional behaviour. Four staff members have been advised that they are to be made subject to a disciplinary investigation.

The conduct notices relate to the level of risk assessments and supervision involving Mr Zarnoch and whether the observations and cell checks carried out on him were in line with relevant policy and procedure.

The serving of notices does not necessarily mean that criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow.

 After we were notified by Leicestershire Police, we sent investigators to the police station and the police post incident procedure to begin gathering evidence including custody footage and some initial accounts from officers and staff. We declared an independent investigation the same day.

A post-mortem was held on 11 September and the results of further tests are awaited.  

IOPC Regional Director for the West Midlands, Derrick Campbell, said: “Whenever someone dies while in police custody it is important that all of the circumstances are independently investigated. We have been in contact with Mr Zarnoch’s family to express our sympathy and explain our role.  

“Following the conclusion of our investigation, we will decide whether to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision and we will determine whether any officer should face disciplinary proceedings.”

  • Leicestershire Police
  • Custody and detention
  • Death and serious injury