Duncan Tomlin

Duncan TomlinEpileptic man dies in a coma following police restraint seizure

from various sources – December 2016
submitted by – Halima Iqra Ghafoor

News updates listed at the foot of this item

Duncan Tomlin, aged 32, died on 29 July 2014, after spending two days in a coma following an incident with officers. Neighbours had called the police after mistaking his shouting (that was normal behaviour during his partial seizures) as a domestic incident. The incident took place in Hayward’s Heath, Sussex. Witnesses said that Duncan was in the front garden when police officers arrived.

A Police spokesperson said that two officers had approached Duncan. There was an altercation and he was subsequently restrained and then placed in a police van with three other officers.

His aunt said; “His girlfriend told the police he was having a seizure, she shouted at them to stop, but they ignored her … three police officers sat on his chest to restrain him, at which point he had a heart attack”.

It was also understood from early accounts that Duncan had been tasered and pepper sprayed before being put in a police van where he fell unconscious after suffering an epileptic seizure. CPR was performed as Duncan had stopped breathing and shortly after he was transferred by ambulance to the nearest hospital but died two days later.

Shortly after the death The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched an investigation and in October 2014 they served five Sussex Police officers with gross misconduct notices as part of the investigation into events prior to Duncan’s death.

The IPCC stated that they had found a case to answer for gross misconduct against all five officers involved in Duncan’s arrest. Spokesperson, Jennifer Izekor, said: “My thoughts are with Duncan’s family and friends at this time. We have today made a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider charges against five officers. We will now await a CPS decision on the matter and will in the meantime engage in discussions with Sussex Police about the gross misconduct recommendations”.

The charity INQUEST announced in October 2014 that five officers had been served with gross misconduct.

Duncan’s parents said that, “The family are devastated by Duncan’s death. We need to know how this came about. We expect the IPCC to carry out a thorough, robust and well-resourced investigation in a timely manner in order to establish this. To this end we welcome the fact that gross misconduct notices have been served on five officers involved in the case as we hope this reflects the gravity with which the IPCC are treating this investigation.”

Duncan’s father (Paul Tomlin) said; “We are aware that there are a number of cases where officers have been allowed to continue to serve despite a referral by the IPCC to the CPS to consider criminal charges.

“We believe this sends the wrong message about how seriously the police take these matters, and we hope in Duncan’s case that the Chief Constable will recognise the need to ensure the public’s confidence by suspending the officers”.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said the officers who were involved had not been suspended from duty!

In October 2016 West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said she had been asked by the Crown Prosecution Service to suspend her investigation into his death while a decision was made on whether the police sergeant and four constables should face criminal charges over the death.

In December 2016 it was announced that Sussex Police officers would not face criminal charges over the death of Duncan Tomlin.


Follow-up News:

Neglect contributed to death of epileptic man restrained in police van
9 April 2019

Sussex Police officers face no charges over death of Duncan Tomlin
22 December 2016

Investigation into the death of man in police custody delayed
13 October 2016

Five police officers investigated over death of man ‘restrained during epileptic seizure’
14 April 2016

INQUEST’s updates on Duncan’s case
(various dates)

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