Toni Emma Speck

Toni Emma SpeckMother dies in police cell

Compiled from various sources
submitted by: Tippa Naphtali – March 2014

News updates listed at the foot of this item

31 year old Toni Emma Speck of Huntington, died on 2 June 2011 after being detained under the Mental Health Act by police. She was taken from the Bootham area to Fulford Road police station, but died after being found collapsed in her cell, sparking a probe by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The IPCC said Toni had been stopped by police after concerns had been raised about her erratic manner. It was said that officers had tried to calm her down, but later had to arrest her. It is thought Toni had been assessed by an on-duty nurse while in custody and deemed fit to be there, but about two hours later her condition had deteriorated and she became unconscious.

Staff alerted the ambulance service, but she was pronounced dead on arrival at York Hospital shortly afterwards. In June 2011 The IPCC said a post-mortem examination had proved inconclusive. Further tests are being carried out to establish the cause of death.

After leaving school Toni had pursued a hairdressing career, but her family said she began associating with the wrong people. After a few years suffering from depression, Toni was admitted to Bootham Hospital, leading to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

She was discharged in April 2012, shortly before she died.

In November 2012 the heartbroken father, 67, of Toni himself died without ever knowing what happened to his daughter.

Toni’s sisters Michaela Peters and Dawn Atkinson, of York, said that their father died from a heart attack last Tuesday following complications with blood clots, and the last conversation he had with them was over his grief at not knowing what had happened leading up to Toni’s death.

The family have said that they were awaiting answers and say “blunders” surrounding their Toni’s death had intensified their grief.

They claim:

  • Police failed to tell the family that she had been arrested.
  • Her father Stuart was informed by a telephone call from York Hospital about three hours after Toni had died, rather than the normal procedure involving a police Family Liaison Officer.
  • After 15 weeks of waiting for toxicology tests, which the IPCC told the family were being fast-tracked, Michaela and Dawn were told the samples had not been sent for testing due to an error.
  • Four out of five samples then leaked and only one sample could be tested.

Toni’s family said that she had a “troubled past” but was desperately trying to turn her life around for her 10 year old daughter, and was succeeding.

At her funeral, mourners were told she had a “smile that could light up a room”.

Her sister, Michaela Peters, of York, said: “She was beautiful, funny, kind and most of all wanted to make something of her life; not waste another minute looking back, but looking to her future.

“She adored Caitlin – her daughter was the centre of her universe – and Caitlin adored her.”


Follow-up News:

Court blocks cell death review
12 January 2016

Cell death woman ‘needed urgent help’
27 November 2015

Family still fighting for answers after Toni Speck’s death in prison cell
13 November 2012

Family of Toni Speck still waiting for answers
3 June 2012

Tributes paid to Toni Emma Speck, of Huntington, who died in police custody
29 June 2011

York police custody death woman named as Toni Speck
9 June 2011

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