An answer at last, after four years of inquiries

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On 11 January 1999 police received reports of a disturbance involving a naked man banging on a front door in Tottenham north London, an incident that would lead to one of Britain's most controversial deaths in police custody.

Eight police officers attended the scene and detained Roger Sylvester. They handcuffed him, covered him with a blanket and drove him to St Anne's psychiatric hospital.

There he was left alone in a room with six of the officers, who held him on the floor for about 20 minutes. He was handcuffed and sometimes restrained on his stomach, which can increase the risk of suffocation. He lost consciousness and fell into a coma. He was taken to the Whittington Hospital, where, seven days later, his life support machine was switched off after tests showed he was clinically dead.

The investigation into the death was initially carried out by the Metropolitan Police Complaints Investigation Bureau. The CIB was replaced in January 1999 by a team from Essex Police after complaints by the family about its conduct.

The police inquiry was passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service in October 1999. Thirteen months later, the CPS announced that no police officer would face criminal charges.

When the family sought to challenge that decision, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, ruled in 2001 that the challenge should await the outcome of the inquest. The announcement the CPS is to re-examine the case means any further legal challenge will be put on hold.

It took two years - until the arrival of a new coroner at St Pancras - before the inquest was held. The inquest was told by Dr Ian Hill that the cause of death could not be "satisfactorily" ascertained. Dr Nathaniel Carey, a Home Office pathologist, said the respiratory muscles could have become tired.