Four police officers face charges over mentally ill man Thomas Orchard's death in custody

 

Four police officers could face criminal charges over the death of a mentally ill church caretaker who was restrained when he was arrested following a disturbance in the street, The Independent has learned.

Thomas Orchard, 32, died in hospital seven days after being found unresponsive in his cell – just an hour after his arrest by police in Exeter. A file has now been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for charges to be considered against four officers from Devon and Cornwall Police, two civilian members of the custody staff and a nurse working for an outside contractor.

The police watchdog investigated Mr Orchard’s death after he was arrested at about 11am on 3 October last year and taken to a police station by van. He was taken to hospital at 12.15pm after he was found to be unconscious in his cell and died a week later. His family said that he had suffered from mental health problems but was a “gentle and loving” man.

A file about the arresting officer was sent to prosecutors in March but they ruled there was insufficient evidence for him to be charged with unlawful arrest or that the use of force was unnecessary.

The latest file passed to the CPS this month relates to what happened after Mr Orchard was put in the back of a police van. The package of evidence sent to prosecutors includes CCTV footage taken from inside the cell where he was found unresponsive. The six members of the police staff have been put on restricted duties, despite calls by the watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), that they should be suspended from duty.

The IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: “This file of evidence concerns Mr Orchard’s time in custody.

“It will be a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether criminal charges will be brought against any of those police staff involved in Mr Orchard’s detention on that day.”

The case is the latest in a series of death-in-custody cases involving the mentally ill, including that of the musician Sean Rigg who died at a Brixton police station in 2008 after being restrained and handcuffed.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game