IOPC investigation into death of a man after arrest in Cornwall is progressing

Published: 25 Sep 2023

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the detention of a man by Devon & Cornwall Police prior to his death is continuing.

We launched an independent investigation after the force referred the man’s death to us following his arrest near St Austell on 13 July. Police officers had attended after a car was reported as being driven erratically in the area. 

Stephen Reardon, 34, was handcuffed and transported in the back of a police van for the 17-mile journey to Newquay police station. During this time, he became unwell and after arriving at the custody unit, officers administered first aid in the yard of the station. He was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was sadly pronounced dead. 

Based on the evidence we have reviewed so far, we have notified two police constables, the driver and passenger in the police van, that they are under criminal investigation for possible gross negligence manslaughter relating to their monitoring and care of Mr Reardon while he was in the police van. We have also served each of the officers with a gross misconduct notice. It should be stressed that the serving of such notifications does not necessarily mean that criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings will follow. 

Our investigation is progressing well and we have been gathering further evidence, taking statements from relevant police officers and we are continuing to review police body worn video footage, along with CCTV from the station. We have conducted house-to-house enquiries in the area. Devon and Cornwall Police continue to fully cooperate with our investigation. An initial post-mortem proved inconclusive and the results of further tests are awaited. A Coroner’s inquest was opened and adjourned at the end of July. 

IOPC regional director David Ford said: “I once again express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Reardon for their loss. We are regularly updating family members and advising them of the progress we are making with our investigation. Due to the fact Mr Reardon became unwell during his detention by officers from Devon & Cornwall Police, we need to thoroughly and independently examine all the circumstances. This includes of Mr Reardon’s arrest, the level of care provided to him during the journey to Newquay and on arrival at the police station. We are also considering whether officers acted in accordance with policies and procedures.”  

  • Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Death and serious injury