Inquest jury sees film of man dying in custody

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The Independent Online

A jury examining the death of a black former paratrooper was told yesterday to guard against allowing a closed circuit television film of him dying in handcuffs on a police station floor to cloud its consideration of other evidence.

A jury examining the death of a black former paratrooper was told yesterday to guard against allowing a closed circuit television film of him dying in handcuffs on a police station floor to cloud its consideration of other evidence.

Christopher Alder, 37, from Hull, died less than half an hour after being released from Hull Royal Infirmary, where he had been taken after suffering a "crack on the head" in a scuffle outside a nightclub.

Mr Alder was arrested for a breach of the peace when he refused to leave the hospital grounds. He collapsed in a van on his way to Queen Gardens Police Station, Hull.

The inquest at Hull Crown Court was told yesterday that police officers thought he was asleep or play-acting. Closed-circuit television footage of five detectives discussing what to do as he lay slumped in the custody suite was an important piece of evidence.

But the East Riding coroner, Geoffrey Saul, summing up, told the jury: "You have only watched [the video] in the sure knowledge that he was dying and in need of care. As Christopher lay dying there was, tragically, no rewind button to press, to examine what was happening. Guard against hindsight." The graphic nature of the film, watched twice by the jury, could cause other evidence to be overlooked, Mr Saul added.

This included the testimony of hospital medical staff who told the inquest Mr Alder had refused to co-operate with attempts to X-ray him, Mr Saul said. The locum senior house officer, who allowed him to leave, said it was "entirely unforeseeable his health would deteriorate and he would die".

The coroner reminded the jury that a forensic scientist had found "no evidence" of an assault in the back of the van.Blood on the van and the custody suite did not provide evidence of assault, he said.The coroner is expected to complete his summing up today.

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