`Wall of silence' over man who died in custody

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A witness to the arrest of a man who died in police custody was chased away by a baton-wielding officer, an inquest heard yesterday. "Patrick" took a lot of convincing that it would be safe for him to describe what happened, the hearing into Wayne Douglas's death was told.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court, London, heard that police met a "wall of silence" in their hunt for witnesses to Douglas's arrest last December. His death sparked rioting throughout Brixton.

The 25-year-old former postman, detained after a chase following a knife- point burglary, was said to have been hit on the wrist with a baton to make him drop a kitchen knife. Pc James Page said Douglas repeatedly lunged at him and a colleague with the eight-inch blade. "I was terrified," he said. Jojo Moyes