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The Powell Family Speaks

repost | 05.08.2006 09:55 | Repression | Birmingham

by Alison Leslie
3rd August 2006

Six police officers charged over the death of a father-of-three in their custody
have been cleared by a jury.

Michael Powell, 38, died in the early hours of September 7, 2003 , after he was
detained outside his mother's home in Birmingham . Inspector Tony Guest, acting
sergeant Chris Wilson and constables Tim Lewis, David Hadley, Nigel Hackett and
Steven Hollyman, all based at the city's Thornhill Road police station, were
subsequently prosecuted over his death.

Sgt Wilson, 31, Inspector Guest, 49, Pc Hollyman, 46, and Pc Hackett, 40, were
acquitted by a jury at Leicester Crown Court of misconduct in a public office. Pc
Lewis, 33, and Pc Hadley, 27, were cleared of battery but the jury failed to reach a
verdict on whether the pair were guilty of dangerous driving.
The family of Michael Powell described the outcome as a "travesty of justice" while
representatives of the policemen said the multi-million pound trial should never
have been brought to court.

In a statement read out by Mikey’s brother-in-law, Chris Lambrias, the family said
"We are like any other family who have lost a loved one as a result of a death in
police custody. All we are seeking is justice - sadly, today's verdict is a travesty
of just that. Mikey was a hardworking, loving father of three boys - that's how he
will be remembered by his family and friends. "But for others, Mikey has become just
another statistic, another person added to the growing list of deaths in custody
where no police officer has been held accountable."

Cousin, Joyce Springer said it was still "chapter one" in their fight to find out
what had happened while Mikey was in the police van and then in a cell at Thornhill
Road police station. "Clearly there's an inquest which we are hoping to ask our
solicitor to re-open. There are civil proceedings we are considering pursuing with
our solicitor, and the chances are we will."

She went on to say, "From the beginning we thought we wouldn't get a guilty verdict,
but we took it so far so that there would be some scrutiny, in particular for West
Midlands Police, who have had a poor record in the past and need to be seen to be
accountable. "It was not just for us but for all the other families who don't know
how their loved ones came to die while in custody."

The family of Michael Powell did not want to erode trust which had been built up
between the police and the black community, she said, but wanted to make sure
lessons were learned from what had happened.

Family and friends are planning to launch a support group for people whose loved
ones have died in custody and to campaign and lobby for changes in practices locally
in police, prison and mental health institutions. Called the Family Advisory &
Support Trust, the organisation will be capitalising on the knowledge gained over
the last three years.

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