100 witnesses to be called for inquest into death of Jimmy Mubenga, who struggled with guards as he was being deported
Inquiry expected to look at the restraint techniques authorised by G4S as well as the UK Border Agency
The widow of an immigrant who died after being restrained by G4S officers as they deported him sobbed uncontrollably as she described how her children missed their father.
Jimmy Mubenga, 46, collapsed after a struggle with guards as the plane to Angola waited to take off from Heathrow. Today assistant deputy coroner Karon Monaghan QC promised that his inquest, which is expected to hear from more than 100 witnesses over eight weeks, would be a "full, fair and fearless investigation".
The in-depth inquiry is expected to take a detailed look at the restraint techniques authorised by the private security giant as well as the UK Border Agency.
"I know he died in sadness. I believe he died with regret. He died asking for help and thinking 'what have I done to deserve this'," Mr Mubenga's widow Adrienne Makenda Kambana, 44, said.
Often inaudible with her head in her hands, she wept as she described the last calls she received from her husband as he was taken from a deportation centre to Heathrow on 12 October 2010.
"Both of us were upset. I recall Jimmy saying to me while he was in the van going to the airport 'Why are they trying to finish our life?'," she said.
His last call was from the plane as it waited to take off. "While were were talking Jimmy said to me 'hang up I will call you back'. I waited for him to call but he never did." A short while later the father-of-five was dead.
The inquest was told that Mr Mubenga, his wife and eldest son Rolan had arrived in Britain seeking asylum in 1994 and been given exceptional leave to stay.
"He did everything a good father should do. He would take the children to school and he would play football with them. He provided a lot of joy to their lives," Mrs Kambana said.
Their youngest child, Blessing, was just seven-months old when he died, Mrs Kambana added: "It is a punishment for her not to have him around. She never had the chance to get to know him and call him Dad. All she has are pictures."
A fork lift truck driver, he worked hard to provide for his family, who lived in Ilford, Essex, she told the jury. But he was "caught up" in a fight, convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and sentenced to two years. A decision was made to deport him upon his release from jail a year later.
"He had never been in trouble with the police before. He had never done anything wrong. When he was arrested, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," his widow said, adding: "He told me he was innocent and I believed him."
The inquest in Isleworth saw images of Mr Mubenga's last hours alive, CCTV footage of the three Detention Custody Officers Terence Hughes, Stuart Tribelnig and Colin Kaler as they collected him from Brook House centre. The men all worked for G4S, which had the contract for escorting deportees until 2011 when it lost it to another private security company Tascor.
Detective Sergeant Stephen Baldwin, of the Metropolitan Police's specialist crime department, said the film appeared to show the four men being cordial, with the guards "reassuring" Mr Mubenga.
But the inquest was told how a guard found him crying in his cell just hours earlier, distraught at the prospect of leaving his family behind.
As the other passengers boarded the night plane to Luanda, he phoned his wife but a short while later a struggle ensued.
"Mr Mubenga was then restrained, handcuffed and placed in a seat," said the coroner, adding: "It appears Mr Mubenga was heard to say things. At some point it appears that he fell silent and unresponsive, and it became clear that something was wrong."
The guards were later arrested "on suspicion of committing criminal offences in relation to the death of Mr Mubenga" but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
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