G4S security guards will not face charges over custody death


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The Independent Online

As G4S’s chief executive came under fire for the Olympics fiasco today, the security giant was facing more damning criticism over its handling of deportees.

News that three of its guards would not face prosecution over the death of a man in their custody prompted outrage from a range of human rights’ groups.

Jimmy Mubenga, 46, became fatally ill on a plane at Heathrow as he was being deported back to Angola in October 2010. But today the Crown Prosecution Service said that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the guards who restrained the father-of-five or their employer, or their employer G4S Care and Justice Services UK Limited.

"We are distraught my husband has been taken away from me and my children have lost their father,” Mr Mubenga's wife Makenda Adrienne Kambana said, adding: "He was crying for help before he was killed. We can't understand why the officers and G4S are not answerable to the law as we or any other member of the public would be."

But today senior crown advocate for the CPS Gaon Hart said: "It is not enough to tell a jury what may have caused a person's death. I have to have sufficient evidence that there is a realistic prospect of proving it to them beyond reasonable doubt, and in these circumstances the evidence did not satisfy that test.”

He added: "The experts' evidence was that I would need to be able to specifically prove that Mr Mubenga was held in a 'severely splinted position' - that is, bent over with his head either on or below his knees and his diaphragm restricted - for a sufficient period of time to show that it was the actions of the security guards, and nothing else, which was the more than a minimal cause of Mr Mubenga's death."

Mr Hart has written to G4S, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and National Offender Management Service (NOMS) after experts raised concerns about the training given to staff concerning causes of asphyxiation but said there were no grounds to prosecute the company for corporate manslaughter.

Inquest, which has supported the family, was among a host of human rights groups to react angrily to the news.

“This is a shameful decision that flies in the face of the evidence about the dangerous use of force used against people being forcibly removed,” said its co-director Deborah Coles.

Emma Norton, legal officer for Liberty, added: "The use of force policy is fundamentally flawed and yet again it seems G4S management did not feel sufficiently bound to ensure their staff could adequately perform such a difficult task."

Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, continued: "It is concerning that no individual or organisation is being held responsible for the tragic death of Jimmy Mubenga.”

Alex Preston, solicitor for the three guards, Terence Hughes, Stuart Tribelnig and Colin Kaler, said they were relieved, having endured almost two years of legal limbo.

A spokeswoman for G4S said: "A death in custody is both tragic and unacceptable. It will be for the UK Border Agency working with the current contractor to assess whether a review of the existing guidelines on control and restraint may be appropriate."