Mentally ill PC 'at centre of police cell death'

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The Independent Online
A POLICE officer diagnosed as mentally ill and unable to give evidence in court, was described as the 'prime candidate for responsibility' and 'plainly at the centre' of a murder in a police cell, a jury at the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

Constable Paul Giles was one of the police officers on duty at Hammersmith police station, west London, on Christmas Eve 1990, when Patrick Quinn, 56, a labourer, was found dead in a police cell. He had been kicked and stamped to death.

The man who shared the police cell with Mr Quinn on the evening of the murder, Malcolm Kennedy, was tried in September 1991 and convicted of the murder. But two years ago the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction after new evidence was presented to it. Then the retrial last year was halted after more new evidence emerged.

Mr Kennedy's counsel, Michael Mansfield QC, said the kernel of the prosecution case against Mr Kennedy, 'a somewhat diminutive figure', was that he had gone 'absolutely berserk' in the police cell. He is supposed to have become 'a Stoke Newington Rambo who just let rip without provocation.'

But Mr Mansfield alleged a massive police cover-up had effectively framed Mr Kennedy. He said: 'Every category of police document in the case had, since 1990, been suppressed, gone missing or been forged.' He said police officers at Hammersmith had 'closed ranks, closed doors, closed files.'

Mr Mansfield said the officers on duty at the time of Mr Quinn's death had failed to throw a 'cordon sanitaire' round the station when the body was discovered. An independent pathologist was not called until six hours after the estimated time of death.

Confusion over lost or incomplete police documents and notebooks, said Mr Mansfield, illustrated a 'pattern of panic' among the officers.

Mr Mansfield said new witnesses would be called who would question the time of death and therefore question the whereabouts of certain officers in the station.

PC Giles was the 'central figure' of events on the night of Mr Quinn's murder, Mr Mansfield said. But he told the jury 'You're not going to hear from PC Giles.' A week ago, the defence learned that PC Giles had been diagnosed mentally ill and unfit to give evidence.

But Mr Mansfield questioned the diagnosis. 'Is he really unfit? Or is it a ploy? Is he scared witless about all the revelations?'

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