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INQUEST INTO THE DEATH OF LLOYD BUTLER IN POLICE CUSTODY IN BIRMINGHAM BEGINS MONDAY 16 JUNE 2014
13 June 2014
Monday 16 June 2014 at 10.00am
Birmingham Coroner’s Court, 50 Newton Street, Birmingham B4 6NE
Before Senior Coroner Louise Hunt
Lloyd Butler died on 4 August 2010, aged 39. He was highly vulnerable with a history of serious mental health issues and was under the care of mental health services. Police were called when he was seen to be acting in a disturbed and disorientated way. He was detained by West Midlands Police for being 'drunk and incapable' and taken to Stechford Police Station. Within three hours of his detention he was discovered collapsed on a police cell floor. Attempts were made to resuscitate him and an ambulance was called. He was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
His family has waited nearly four years for the inquest.
There are far reaching questions concerning all aspects of the care and treatment that Lloyd received during his detention by West Midlands police, including:
- Why, despite appearing intoxicated, wholly disorientated and “not understanding anything” the police decided to take him to a police station and not to a hospital and why they treated him as fit for detention
- Whether the necessary ‘rousing checks’ to ensure Lloyd’s care and welfare were carried out
- The appropriateness of comments and conduct of the police towards Lloyd throughout his detention
- The speed at which urgent medical assistance was summoned despite evidence of Lloyd’s poor and deteriorating health.
- Questions about the appropriateness of the police’s response and the assumptions made concerning the cause of his disorientated and confused behaviour at the station (there are questions about the actual level of Lloyd’s intoxication and what was in fact causing him to behave in the way he was)
The seriousness of the case is reflected in the unusual steps taken by the IPCC in recommending disciplinary action for gross misconduct against several officers involved with Lloyd’s care.
Janet Butler, Lloyd’s mother said:
“Lloyd suffered problems with his health and wellbeing from the age of 20. However it is important to us to remember the many periods of Lloyd’s life that were filled with good times, and happy memories.
“He worked very hard to keep a well-balanced and healthy mind, this he did with the support of his family and friends. He was very well liked and loved by many, including his two children, and often talked about his future with great expectations and joy. We are devastated that his life was cut short in this way. It has been a long and torturous wait for answers and accountability.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“It is unacceptable that this family have had to wait four years for answers about how their vulnerable relative with complex needs ended up dying in police custody. This has not only placed a terrible emotional toll on the family but in the absence of proper public scrutiny has frustrated the opportunity for learning and accountability.”
INQUEST has been working with the family of Lloyd Butler since his death in August 2010. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Ifti Manzoor from Irwin Mitchell solicitors and Stephen Cragg QC of Doughty Street chambers.
Notes to editors:
1. A photograph of Lloyd is available on request.
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah