Socialist Worker

Officers found not guilty in Mikey Powell case

Issue No. 2012

Six West Midlands police officers have been cleared of all charges relating to the death of Mikey Powell in police custody.

Mikey Powell died in the early hours of 7 September 2003 after being struck by a police car, hit with a baton and sprayed with CS gas in the Lozells area of Birmingham.

Sergeant Chris Wilson, 31, Inspector Tony Guest, 49, PC Steven Hollyman, 46, and PC Nigel Hackett, 40, were cleared of misconduct in a public office. PCs Tim Lewis, 33, and David Hadley, 27, were found not guilty of battery and were later cleared of dangerous driving charges against them.

Officers had been called to the home of Mikey Powell's mother after a disturbance. Mikey Powell, who had been suffering mental health problems, later died after being taken to Thornhill Road police station.

Mikey Powell's family said in statement to the media outside court: 'All we are seeking is justice - sadly, today's verdict is a travesty of just that. This is yet another instance where a fit, young man has come into contact with the police, via a restraint, taken into custody and within a matter of hours is pronounced dead.

'Mikey was a hard-working, loving father of three boys - that's how he will be remembered by his family and friends. But for others, Mikey has become just another statistic, another person added to the growing list of deaths in custody where no police officer has been held accountable.'

Four other officers were cleared of misconduct in a public office earlier in the trial after a direction by the judge at Leicester Crown Court.

Those charges were dropped because a sound recording of CCTV taken at the police station on the night of Mikey Powell's death became merged with audio from the film Dogs of War playing on a shelf nearby.

None of the officers had ever been accused of causing Mikey Powell's death.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: 'We are deeply saddened by this case and must never lose sight of the fact that Michael Powell died when in our care. His death is a tragedy for his family and friends and our thoughts are with them at this time.'

Police Federation chairman Jan Berry said the case should never have come to court in the first place. She said: 'By pursuing this prosecution, the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] and the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] have failed the victim and his family, the police officers and the criminal justice system. Not only has it caused great distress to the officers involved, it has cost the public purse several million pounds.'

Tim Coolican, head of the criminal department at Russell Jones & Walker in Birmingham, issued a statement on behalf of the 10 officers welcoming the jury's verdicts. 'The officers have always believed that they acted properly to deal with a violent and disturbed man, having been called to do so by his family,' he said.

The IPCC has been supervising an investigation into the circumstances of Mikey Powell's death. IPCC Commissioner John Crawley said the body and Northamptonshire Police, which investigated the officer's actions, will consider whether any disciplinary issues should be referred to West Midlands Police.

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Sat 5 Aug 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2012
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