Young man freezes to death in coal bunker – police accused of neglect
originally by 4WardEver UK
published 5th February 2006
Updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item
The lack of assistance from two police officers is likely to have led to the tragic death of 17-year-old Lee Sellers, from Buckley, who was found dead in a coal bunker a fortnight after he disappeared one night in January 2004.
Following his death it transpired that the officers spoke to Lee as he walked barefoot and drunk but then left him at the scene. Lee was last seen alive by the officers in the early hours of the morning as he walked along the A550 towards Penyffordd after a night out at a local pub with friends. His body was discovered a fortnight later in a farm’s coal bunker, and his father, Neville Sellers, quickly lodged a formal complaint against the officers. A North Wales police spokesperson originally said,” At the present time we are considering what other action needs to be taken, if any.”
A report was later submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Following the IPCC investigation the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that no action was to be taken against the two police officers over the death.
Lee’s father Neville alleged that there had been a gross neglect of duty and continued to call for the officers to be prosecuted. Mr Sellers said the officers should have either arrested his son or picked him up and taken him home after noting his vulnerable condition. He said, “The two officers should not have let Lee make his own way home as he was covered in mud and had no shoes.”
But in a statement a spokeswoman for North Wales Police said, “A decision has been taken by the Crown Prosecution Service that no proceedings will be taken against any police officer.”
In January 2006 police insisted they banned Lee’s father from a subsequent police misconduct hearing because of threats. They claimed the young man’s father had warned a senior policeman he would bring a weapon to the Colwyn Bay HQ hearing. He was subsequently banned by the panel hearing the disciplinary case of two officers who were the last to see Lee alive.
Mr Sellers denied the allegations of the police and revealed his only “weapon” was inviting the media to join him at the hearing. As he arrived at the force HQ, two officers wearing protective clothing jumped from a waiting police car to tell him he was not allowed to go to the meeting.
After a day of negotiations by the panel, headed by Dyfed Powys deputy chief constable Barry Taylor, a compromise was finally arrived at. When the hearing resumed Mr Sellers was allowed to listen from an adjoining room, but not see the officers or hear any of the evidence identifying them.
Mr Sellers maintains his stance against the police. He said, “To be three and a half miles away from home and be told to walk home is beyond me,” He said he knew his son had been four to five times over the drink-drive limit and “was definitely not coherent.”
Lee Neville’s family wants an apology from the officers, and is adamant that action should be taken against them. They have pleaded to know what Lee’s last words were. They were only two people who know what he said last – we never had a chance to speak to him.”
Mr Sellers said his family had been devastated by Lee’s death, and an investigation and follow-up procedures that appear to be endless and creating serious stress for the family and close friends of Lee. It has destroyed the family completely, because it is a never-ending story – we need to have an end to it so we can put it to rest.”
Father banned from son’s hearing over ‘threat’
24 January 2006
Family distraught as Lee’s body is found
14 February 2004