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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Death probe police face hearing
Jay Abatan
Jay Abatan was an accountant with two young children
Three senior police officers are to face a misconduct tribunal over the killing of tax specialist Jay Abatan.

The hearing will examine alleged failures in the Sussex Police inquiry into his death. A superintendent and two detective inspectors will appear.

Mr Abatan, 42, from Eastbourne, died after being attacked outside the Ocean Rooms nightclub in Brighton in 1999.

Manslaughter charges brought against two men were dropped because of a lack of evidence.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the three officers will be questioned about how they led the investigation into Mr Abatan's death.

Verbal warnings

The IPCC said one high-ranking chief police officer, who has since left the Sussex force, may also now be disciplined by his or her current police authority.

Three serving officers will receive verbal warnings.

Mr Abatan was attacked on 24 January 1999, as he waited at a taxi rank with his brother Michael.

The father-of-two, who was celebrating promotion with PricewaterhouseCoopers, hit his head on the pavement and lay in a coma for five days before his life support machine was turned off.

Graham Curtis, 41, and 39-year-old Peter Bell were arrested within 24 hours of the assault, but manslaughter charges against the pair were later dropped.

I knew early on that the investigation was not right
Michael Abatan
They were instead charged with affray and causing actual bodily harm to Michael Abatan, but were acquitted.

Mr Curtis hanged himself at his Brighton home last June.

Complaints by Mr Abatan's family that the killing had not been investigated fully, prompted two reviews of the inquiry by Essex and Avon and Somerset Police.

In May, an IPCC report into the inquiry found key officers had made crucial errors in the early stages of the investigation.

On Thursday, Mr Abatan's brother Michael welcomed the decision to hold the tribunal.

"My brother was murdered and nobody brought to justice. I knew early on that the investigation was not right and told Sussex Police.

Family invited

"All I wanted was those who did this brought to account for what they did.

"But even at this late stage Sussex Police are not being open and honest about what went wrong.

"They refuse to show the report which details how individual officers failed and why senior management allowed these failings to go on unchecked."

IPCC Commissioner David Petch said: "Sussex Police will be responsible for arranging the misconduct tribunal.

"Members of the family will be invited to attend and could be called as witnesses."




SEE ALSO:
Abatan police 'may face action'
17 May 04  |  Southern Counties
Report on Abatan police due
07 Oct 03  |  Southern Counties
Former suspect in Abatan case dies
10 Jun 03  |  Southern Counties


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