Police gross misconduct ‘not proven’ after Burgess Hill man’s death

The scene of the police incident. Picture: Steve Robards
The scene of the police incident. Picture: Steve Robards

Allegations of gross misconduct against three police officers following the death of a Burgess Hill man have been found ‘not proven’ at a public hearing.

Duncan Tomlin, 32, died after being arrested at an address in Ryecroft, Haywards Heath, in July 2014.

Shortly after the Burgess Hill resident’s death an investigation was opened by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), who served a police sergeant and four police constables with gross misconduct notices.

In the IPCC’s initial report it said Mr Tomlin was placed in the back of the police van where he became unresponsive. He was removed from the van in South Road, Haywards Heath, and was not breathing.

CPR was performed before he was transferred by ambulance to a nearby hospital. He died two days later, the IPCC report said.

The IPCC was then replaced by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). It found Sgt Christopher Glasspool, PC Daniel Jewel and PC Jamie Jackson had a case to answer for gross misconduct over their use of force in restraining Mr Tomlin and opened an investigation.

The public gross misconduct hearing opened at Sackville House in Lewes on Monday (July 30).

ACC Steve Barry, who was the force representative on the panel, said: “I want to express my regret for Duncan Tomlin’s death. My sympathies remain with his family and friends who suffered a terrible loss.

“The circumstances of Mr Tomlin’s death have been fully and independently investigated. Four years after his death the independently-chaired misconduct hearing has concluded that the officers acted appropriately in the situation they faced and that they did meet the standards of behaviour that the public should expect from the police.”

Today (August 3), a panel, independently chaired by John Bassett, concluded that the allegations against all three officers were ‘not proven’ and the officers’ behaviour ‘did meet the standards of conduct expected’, Sussex Police said.

ACC Barry added: “An officer’s duty is to keep people safe and Mr Tomlin’s death is something that was tragic and unexpected. The panel found that the officers had no choice but to restrain Mr Tomlin and all three officers met the standards of conduct expected.

“They did monitor Mr Tomlin in the police van and did recognise when the situation became a medical emergency, at which point they acted promptly and appropriately.

“They showed professionalism and used their training properly and I believe that any of their colleagues confronted with such circumstances today would similarly know how to respond.

“This investigation has demonstrated the difficult judgements that officers have to make, day in and day out, as part of their routine duties.

“They have to deal with people exhibiting a variety of unusual and violent behaviours. These might be medical emergencies, mental health issues, drink or drug-related incidents, violence or very often a combination of any number of these and, as in this tragic case, often whilst being physically assaulted in fast moving, chaotic situations.”

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