Socialist Worker

G4S guards unlawfully killed Jimmy Mubenga, says jury

An inquest jury’s verdict is a major breakthrough in getting justice for Jimmy Mubenga, who died during a forced deportation, reports Ken Olende

Issue No. 2361

Jimmys family have fought for justice since he died

Jimmy's family have fought for justice since he died (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The jury at an inquest in Isleworth found that Jimmy Mubenga was unlawfully killed in October 2010 during a forced deportation to Angola.

Jimmy’s widow Adrienne said immediately after hearing the verdict, “It has been a hard journey for the past three years. Everything was behind the door, but now it has come out. It feels like Jimmy is resting in peace.”

The family plans to return to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which decided not to press charges against the guards.

Mark Scott, representing Jimmy’s family, said, “We were all completely bemused by the CPS decision last year. We will be seeking an urgent meeting.”

The British Airways plane was still on the tarmac at Heathrow airport when Jimmy became “nonresponsive”. 

Through eight weeks of evidence the jury heard how three G4S guards restrained the 46 year old father of five. 

More than 30 passengers gave evidence either in person or via witness statements. 

Passenger and cabin crew witnesses heard Jimmy shouting, “I can’t breathe” and “You’re killing me” during the 40 minutes the guards were restraining him.

Witnesses reported how Jimmy’s cries became fainter until he fell silent.

He became unresponsive at 8.11pm while the plane was taxiing to the runway. 

Emergency

The plane returned to the stand at 8.32pm and an emergency medical technician attended him by 8.38pm.

Witnesses said Jimmy received no first aid until this point, despite the fact that cabin crews are trained for such emergencies.

The ten jurors returned a majority verdict of unlawful killing by nine to one. 

The jury said that Jimmy died on the plane at 8.24pm and that the G4S guards knew that their actions would cause “harm or serious harm”.

Jimmy scuffled with the guards after boarding. They then handcuffed him behind his back and held him in a seat in the back row of the economy compartment. 

He had a guard on either side and one leaning over him from the row in front. Stuart Tribelnig was the senior custody officer, and was the guard in the row in front of Jimmy.

He gave evidence that Jimmy kept “thrashing” about and had to be held in the chair. He said he had no recollection of Jimmy saying he couldn’t breathe. 

The guards agreed that none of them had pushed Jimmy’s head or shoulders down, and that their efforts were to calm him. 

Several other witnesses reported seeing Jimmy bent forward with guards pushing on his back. 

Evidence was presented at court that one guard referred to another deportee as “an animal” and two had sent texts containing “explicitly racially hostile material”. 

The official pathologist said Jimmy suffered cardio-respitory collapse after being unable to breathe because of the position he was in. 

The coroner, Karon Monaghan QC, will now produce a report on the case. 

Thanks to Lara Pawson

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