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The BBC's Richard Wells
"Justice has finally been done"
 real 56k

Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Ex-paratrooper's death unlawful
Janet Alder celebrates with family and friend
Janet Alder (centre): "Justice has been done"
A former paratrooper who died in police custody with his hands cuffed and his trousers around his knees was unlawfully killed, a jury has ruled.

Christopher Alder, 37, was arrested on 1 April 1998, and died on the floor of Queens Gardens police station in Hull, East Yorkshire, without regaining consciousness.

The inquest at Hull Crown Court heard how officers laughed and joked while the father of two lay dying on the floor.

Five police officers were charged prior to Thursday's inquest verdict on counts of wilful misconduct in public duty in connection with his death.

Christopher Alder
Christopher Alder: Died in handcuffs in police custody
Mr Alder, who was decorated for his service with the Army in Northern Ireland, died less than 30 minutes after being released from Hull Royal Infirmary.

He had been taken there after receiving "a crack on the head" after a scuffle outside a night-club, the coroner said.

He was then arrested for a breach of the peace after refusing to leave hospital grounds.

Hull and East Riding Coroner Geoffrey Saul said Mr Alder was then "partially dragged and partially carried" into the police station, and put on the floor of the custody suite while officers discussed what to do with him.


He said officers believed the computer studies student was either "play-acting or asleep" and 12 minutes passed before it was realised something was seriously wrong.

The jury was shown closed circuit television camera footage of Mr Alder lying on the floor coughing up blood.

They took six hours to rule that he had died of "postural asphyxia".

Mr Saul said the seven-week inquest had been so difficult that he excused the jurors from further service for five years.

"This has been a tense and often highly-charged inquest. Emotions have run high, and none of us will ever forget Christopher Alder," Mr Saul said.

"I do sincerely hope that this inquest will now allow the family to move forward."

Mr Alder's sister Janet, who led the campaign asking for answers about her brother's death, said justice had been done.

Janet Alder
Christopher Alder's sister Janet outside the inquest
"There was only one true verdict that could have been given and it was given.

"I give my compliments to the jury and lets hope now we get a proper prosecution," she said.

Her solicitor Ruth Bundy said: "Christopher was placed like a sack of potatoes while officers chatted and joked just a few yards away."

She called on the Crown Prosecution Service to re-examine the case.

"The CPS must take this case away again," she said.

Manslaughter charges

"They should study it in depth to see why the jury came to this decision and must consider other charges, including manslaughter."

John Crosse, Humberside Police assistant chief constable, said it was not the role of an inquest to attribute blame for the any killings.

"Christopher's death was tragic. It has also been a difficult and long period of time for all concerned, but most of all for Christopher's family," he said.

"We also remember the five police officers who have been suspended from their office as constables for a long period waiting for this inquest."

He said there were still other issues which may be heard at a future crown court hearing and it was inappropriate for him to comment further.

A spokesman for the CPS said it would be looking at evidence in the inquest and if any new information came to light, would review its decision.

"This is normal procedure," a spokesman said. "We cannot say how long this will take as the inquest itself lasted seven weeks and there is a lot of evidence to consider."

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