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Leon Patterson

Leon PattersonBeaten and left for dead in a police cell

by 4WardEver UK
Compiled from various sources 12th October 2009
Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Various accounts indicate that 31 year old Leon Patterson had been found dead in a police cell in a Stockport police cell on 27th November 1992. He was naked and foaming at the mouth. His blood covering the walls, and his skull fractured. In short his family asked to believe that despite having spent the night in a police station, and that he was high on drugs; he had somehow managed to get rid of his clothing and then beat himself so badly that he died of convulsions. And that he did this all so quietly that no one in the police station noticed.

Leon had been arrested on the 21st November on suspicion of being involved in a till snatch at a local store. False information received from the Police National Computer led officers to believe that Leon was an ‘escapee’ from custody – he had in fact failed to return to prison after a period of home leave. This false information poisoned the view of everyone who had contact with him thereafter.

On arrival at Stockport police station Leon had told the police he was a heroin user and he complained daily of feeling unwell and suffering withdrawal symptoms which included vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.

During the last 20 hours of his life despite being seen by two police doctors he was left lying naked, his body covered in injuries, on a stone floor groaning and incoherent. Neither doctor prescribed any medication or treatment nor took any steps to get him to a civilian hospital relying on the unsuccessful efforts of the police to get him into HMP Strangeways in Manchester.

It is alledged that the police took no steps to take him to hospital once they were aware that the facility at Strangeways was not available.

His sister Stephanie has spent several years at least attempting to get an explanation even marginally more credible than this. She could not believe the inquest verdict claiming that her twin brother had been suffering from “hypermania”.

The second, held in April 1993 returned a verdict of unlawful killing although the cause of death was unascertained but was quashed in October 1994 on appeal by police and police doctors on the grounds that the coroner had misdirected the jury on the law.

Legal aid was not made available for Leon’s family to be represented at inquests despite the fact that unlimited public funds were available for lawyers to represent the police and police doctors being represented. INQUEST arranged for senior barrister Terry Munyard to represent the family for free and if not for his generosity Leon’s family would have been unrepresented and alone.

In 1997 Trevor Phillips asked; “If we are going to teach children of all backgrounds to love the historic culture of the British peoples, perhaps we need to pay very careful attention to the bit in the civics syllabus that deals with the glories of the nation’s criminal justice system. In particular, we need to work out how to explain to our new Britons why it is that the one thing that the justice system does not appear to deliver is justice.”

He went on to say; “Why do they die? How do they die? And how does it come about that year after year, there are new cases, new campaigns, and new scandals; yet there is still a real chance that someone arrested for some small offence this weekend can wind up dead by Monday morning?”

In 1999 Leon’s family joined with many others to protest against the spiralling number of deaths in police, and other forms of state custody. More than 100 people marched on Downing Street to demand a public inquiry into the death of more than 1,300 people in custody.

The marchers, most of whom were relatives of the victims, said a disproportionate number of the 1,300 deaths in custody in England and Wales since 1990 were black. The demonstrators said police brutality was to blame for some of the deaths and carried pictures of their loved ones from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street. There they handed in a card listing more than 200 deaths of black people in prison, psychiatric hospitals and police custody over the last 30 years.

Earlier in 1999 the then Home Secretary Jack Straw hinted that he was considering launching a public inquiry into deaths in custody. But campaign spokesman Ken Fero said Mr Straw had written to the group a week before their protest turning down their request stating that the death in custody figures from the marchers were “inflated”. Officials claimed that 40% of deaths in custody were linked to drink or drugs, and 25% with suicide.

In 1996 an INQUEST spokesperson said; Leon’s family are still waiting to discover the truth and who is accountable for the inhuman and degrading treatment Leon received while under the care of the police and police doctors. The failure to establish the true circumstances about his death and the lack of rights for families demonstrates the lamentable failings of current investigatory mechanisms into deaths in custody.“

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Follow-up News:

Year after year, the bitter toll of fathomless deaths
11 October 1997

Report on the death of Leon Patterson (PDF off-site)
INQUEST 1992

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