Socialist Worker

Court considers how Mikey Powell died

Issue No. 2001

Mikey Powell died after he was detained outside his home in Lozells, Birmingham, on 7 September 2003. The trial of ten police officers charged in connection with his death began at Leicester Crown Court last week.

According to prosecutors, police officers drove their car at him and used CS gas and a baton to restrain him shortly before he died. His condition deteriorated on his way to nearby Thornhill Road police station and he was pronounced dead at hospital shortly afterwards.

Mikey Powell was held by West Midlands police officers after his mother phoned 999 in the early hours to report a disturbance at their house, the court was told. Powell, who had sufffered from mental illness, had smashed a window at the house. Opening the case, Courtenay Griffiths QC said constables Tim Lewis and David Hadley were first on the scene. Lewis was driving the marked police car and his colleague was a passenger. “In the minutes that followed they deliberately drove the police vehicle at Powell causing him to collide with it,” said Griffiths.

“After the event, they sought to justify this inherently dangerous driving, which caused an obvious risk of serious injury to Powell, claiming they thought he was armed with a gun.”

Dangerous

Although Hadley had not driven the car, he had encouraged his colleague to steer it towards Mikey Powell, the court heard. Both men are charged with dangerous driving because it was a joint enterprise, Griffiths said.

The two officers then got out of their vehicle and approached him. PC Lewis sprayed Mikey Powell with CS spray and PC Hadley struck him with a baton. More officers arrived at the scene and restrained Powell on the ground. He was then put in a police van and taken to Thornhill Road police station.

None of the officers in the dock at Leicester Crown Court are to blame for Mikey Powell’s death, said Griffiths.

Last Friday the jury heard recordings of the moments the father of three was carried unconscious into the custody suite of a police station.

Griffiths told the jury at Leicester crown court, “The Crown submit that the officers’ conversations establish that they were aware of the severity of Mikey Powell’s condition at an early stage.”

Taped comments played in court included: “Delirium, excited delirium gone real bad”, and: “He tensed up three or four times in the van.” Somebody asks if Mikey Powell is asleep. “Dream on,” comes the reply. Griffiths said, “The conversations must have related to Mr Powell, they could not have related to anyone else.

“We suggest that CCTV evidence supports that Michael Powell was unconscious and in obvious need of emergency medical treatment by the time the van arrived at the police station.”

Those present and custody sergeant David Williams were aware of his ill-health, the court heard. PCs Lewis and Hadley deny battery and dangerous driving. acting sergeant Wilson, inspector Guest, PC Hollyman, PC Hackett, PC Gill, PC Howard, PC Edwards and sergeant Williams all plead not guilty to charges of misconduct in a public office.

The trial continues.


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News
Sat 20 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2001
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