Sister of mentally ill man who died in police custody speaks of shock of being told he 'just collapsed and died'

 

The sister of a mentally ill man who died in police custody has spoken of her shock of being told by police that her physically fit brother had “just collapsed and died”, an inquest has heard.

Marcia Rigg-Samuel, 48, was giving evidence at the long-awaited inquest into the death of Sean Rigg, who died at Brixton police station in south London in August 2008.

Mr Rigg, 40, who had a 20-year history of serious psychotic episodes, was described by his sister as a "boisterous, funny, talented" musician with no physical health problems.

Ms Rigg-Samuel told Southwark Coroner's Court: "I heard my brother had died in the early hours of 22 August, at about 2.30am.

"The police came to our house and told us he had been arrested and taken to Brixton police station and had suddenly collapsed and died… They said they had no more information. We never heard from them again."

The jury heard how Mr Rigg had been treated in mental health hospitals more than 15 times as a result of relapses which always followed a similar pattern. He had on many occasions been picked up by police in London and abroad in countries including France, Thailand and Sweden, because of the bizarre and sometimes aggressive behaviour he displayed when unwell.

Ms Rigg-Samuel told the court that he was well known to Brixton police, who had helped take him to hospital on several occasions.

Professor Thomas Fahy, who had been Mr Rigg’s consultant forensic psychiatrist for several years, described Mr Rigg as an independently minded, charming man when he was well. He was “shocked” to hear about Mr Rigg’s sudden as he was a “slim, fit, healthy young man” with no history of heart problems.

No-one from Mr Rigg’s community mental health team from South London and Maudsley NHS Trust  saw or spoke to Mr Rigg in the week before his death despite being told by hostel where he lived that he was drinking his own urine, doing karate moves and behaving aggressively. These were typical signs of a relapse for Mr Rigg, the jury was told.

Under cross examination by the Rigg family’s barrister, Leslie Thomas Q, Professor Fahy admitted that “in hindsight” his team should have intervened earlier as Mr Rigg had clearly relapsed.

Professor Fahy explained that his patient had not been taking his medication for two months. Mr Rigg usually relapsed after not taking his medication for a few weeks when he would then pose a risk to the public because of paranoid and grandiose beliefs, the court was told.

Professor Fahy told the jury he had been away on holiday in the weeks leading up to Mr Rigg's death, but was asked about the response of this team in his absence.

Mr Thomas QC said: "At times when Sean was not being compliant with his medicine, his family had a calming effect on him, didn't they? He listened to his big sis (Ms Rigg-Samuel). Did anyone on your team think to pick up the phone and ring the family?"

Professor Fahy replied: "The family wasn't contacted. They should have been." The proceedings were temporarily halted after Ms Rigg-Samuel broke down in tears.

The inquest continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before