Olaseni Lewis death: Family of 23-year-old who died after being restrained by 11 police officers win legal battle to reopen inquiry

Family claim IT graduate was handcuffed and held for 40 minutes face down at Bethlem Royal Hospital

Crime Correspondent

The family of a man who never regained consciousness after being restrained by police has won a legal battle to reopen an inquiry to examine the role of 11 officers in his death.

Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old IT graduate, died three years ago today after being pinned down on the floor of a mental health hospital where he was taken after becoming agitated.

The family claims he was handcuffed and held for 40 minutes face down at Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham, Kent, during two prolonged periods by a total of 11 officers. He died four days later.

The High Court decision marks the conclusion of a bizarre set of circumstances which saw the police watchdog back the Mr Lewis’s family’s attempts to have its original flawed inquiry quashed and a new one established.

Ajibola Lewis, the dead man’s mother, said: “We are relieved that the way has finally been cleared for a proper investigation into Seni’s death, even if it comes three years late. 

“We hope that both the IPCC and the Met will now allow light to shine upon the truth about Seni’s death.”

The original inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission failed to examine whether any of the officers had committed a criminal offence or interview any of them under caution. The officers were called after Mr Lewis became agitated after his family were told to leave the hospital after he was sectioned and detained at the hospital.

The officers gave written statements of what happened but their accounts of events were never tested. In its report in 2011, the IPCC concluded that no criminal or disciplinary charges should be laid.

Following a complaint by the family, the watchdog decided to reopen its inquiry earlier this year, but the Metropolitan Police said that the investigation had already been completed and the investigation stalled.

The watchdog paid the family’s fees to take the case to court to have the findings of their first flawed inquiry quashed. The case was successful last week, and the case will now be reinvestigated, which could see officers could face criminal or disciplinary proceedings.

Deborah Coles, the co-director of the charity Inquest which has supported the family, said: “It is vital that the new investigation is conducted rigorously and robustly and that any wrongdoing is identified and dealt with appropriately. We can only hope that the IPCC has learned from this whole sorry experience so that no other family will ever have to go through this again.”

IPCC deputy chairwoman Rachel Cerfontyne welcome the ruling. “We are determined to conduct a robust and thorough re-investigation as it is what is to demanded to finally understand what happened to Seni Lewis.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there