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Friday, 14 March 2014
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  • CPS decision

  • Philmore Mills death in police custody

    Crown Prosecution Service say Nobody Guilty for hospital death

    Report: Paul Janik

    Philmore Mills, RIP

    On Tuesday, 27 December 2011, a patient in Wexham Park Hospital died on the floor of ward 9 after being handcuffed behind his back by two police officers.

    Today, Friday 14 March 2014, which is 2 years 4 months after the death, the English Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) declared that, based on the evidence assembled by the English Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) no person is to blame for the death in police custody of the hospital patient.

    'Crown' means belonging to England's Queen Elizabeth number 2 - the incumbent monarch.

    The IPCC investigation was conducted by Thames Valley Police officers into the actions of Thames Valley Police officers.

    For a period of 7 months, commencing on the day of the incident, both police officers were permitted by England law, by English police procedures and by the operating policy of the English IPCC, to discuss all the details of the incident with, literally, anyone.

    Eventually, 7 months after the death, when some of the details of the incident could no longer be remembered with absolute clarity and total accuracy, and after much discussion of the incident by the involved police officers with other persons, the same police organisation, Thames Valley Police, formally questioned the involved police officers.

    The interviews, video recorded as 'evidence', were conducted in an atmosphere of suspected criminal activity, described in police jargon as under caution, with lawyers present who inevitably would have intervened to protect the involved police officers from giving evidence that might implicate them criminally or negatively.

    The English authorities do not permit the same relaxed latitude for persons who are not police officers. Non-police officers are questioned either immediately or within 3 days under caution and, until their interview is officially concluded, are prevented discussing the incident with anyone except their lawyer.

    For non-police officers the time available for lawyers and their clients to properly discuss the incident and the resulting implications is severely limited.

    Often only a small cramped room with no ventilation is available for this purpose. The atmosphere in uninviting and intimidating.

    In the Slough Times experience extending over 7 years, some of the Police Station allocated lawyers are sub-standard, uninterested in obtaining justice for their client and preoccupied with getting paid for their slovenly work. Most disadvantaged are the poor, the mentally retarded, the uneducated and those unfamiliar with the system's daily imperfections.

    The crisis in the proper functioning of a fair and equitable English criminal justice system flourishes to society's ultimate detriment.

    England has two distinct systems of criminal justice: an inferior and often disadvantageous system for the public and a superior and advantageous system for the police.

    This is the status quo major English political organisations, (Conservative, Labour and UKIP), wish to perpetuate. No wonder they are keen to leave the European Union where better standards are consider a fundamental Human Right available to all persons.

    The Crown Prosecution Service statement

    1. Philmore Mills died on 27 December 2011 at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough.
      1. Shortly before his tragic death, Mr Mills was restrained by two Thames Valley police officers, who had responded to an emergency request for assistance from hospital staff.
      2. An investigation into this incident was undertaken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and we have now reviewed all of the evidence provided to us.
      3. We have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge either officer or any of the hospital staff with a criminal offence.
    2. Mr Mills was in an extremely poor state of health at the time of his death, suffering from severe lung and heart disease.
      1. Additionally, he had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. The results of post-mortem examinations included the fact that Mr Mills could have died at any time from these ailments.
    3. The pathologists who examined Mr Mills could not determine with certainty whether anything done by the officers had or had not contributed to the death.
      1. The evidence did not suggest excessive force was used during the restraint.
    4. To establish the offence of unlawful act manslaughter, it would have to be proved so a jury was sure that the officers or hospital staff committed an unlawful act carrying a foreseeable risk of physical harm (such as common assault or actual bodily harm) and that this act was a significant cause of death.
      1. The evidence suggests that the restraint of Mr Mills was, in the circumstances, carried out in a lawful manner.
      2. Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence to prove the restraint was a significant cause of death.
      3. As such, a prosecution for unlawful act manslaughter is not possible.
    5. The alternative form of manslaughter - gross negligence - would require the prosecution to establish that the officers breached their duty of care towards Mr Mills in a manner that was grossly negligent and that this was a significant cause of death.
    6. Gross negligence is more than just a mistake or omission - the courts have said that even very serious mistakes and omissions that cause a person's death are not sufficient alone for a person to be convicted of manslaughter.
      1. The available evidence - from both the witnesses and the pathologists - could not support a finding of gross negligence by the officers or hospital staff and the evidence linking their conduct to the death is not as certain as it needs to be for a jury.
    7. We also considered whether the officers should be charged with misconduct in public office. This offence requires a public official to wilfully misconduct themselves or wilfully neglect their duties to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office.
      1. The wilful neglect to constitute misconduct must be proved by evidence demonstrating a serious departure from proper standards.
      2. The available evidence does not reach this threshold.
      3. The hospital staff called the officers to deal with an urgent problem on the ward and the officers reacted reasonably in those circumstances.
    8. This was a very sad case and we fully realise that the unexpected death of Mr Mills would have been distressing for his family.
      1. We have written to them to explain our decision and to offer a meeting should they so wish.

    Family astonished

    The dead hospital patient's eldest daughter, Rachel Gumbs, said the whole family was numbed, shocked and greatly distressed by the CPS decision.

    A full statement will be made in a few days when the family has recovered from hearing the astonishing news.

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