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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Police officers 'let man die'
Chris Alder
Christopher Alder's death was captured on CCTV
Five police officers left a man to die on the floor of a custody suite at a police station, a court has heard.

Christopher Alder died after a fracas outside a nightclub that left him dazed, confused and aggressive, Teesside Crown Court was told.

James Curtis QC, prosecuting, told the jury Mr Alder's death had been captured on CCTV cameras at the police station.

Five Humberside officers - Constables Nigel Thomas Dawson, 39, Neil Blakey, 42, Mark Ellerington, 36, and Matthew Barr, 38, and custody Sergeant John Dunn, 40 - deny the manslaughter of Mr Alder.

The officers all also deny a charge of misconduct in a public office.

Mr Alder had been taken into police custody on 1 April 1998, when the incident happened.

Mr Curtis told the jury: "The defendants are police officers.

"A man called Christopher Alder died in a police station while he was in their custody and, the Crown say, while he was in their care.

"He died in the custody area of that police station, crumpled on the floor.

"Tragically he died visibly for all in that room to see, and audibly for all in that room to hear."

Aggressive behaviour

Mr Curtis told the court Mr Alder had been involved in an altercation outside a Hull nightclub.

He had been drinking and was temporarily knocked unconscious by a blow to the mouth, which had caused him to fall and hit his head.

He was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary.

But after regaining consciousness, his behaviour had become "so confused, so aggressive and so unco-operative as to make it impossible for the staff to treat him", said Mr Curtis.

PCs Dawson and Blakey went to the hospital to interview Mr Alder as the victim of an assault, but his increasingly aggressive behaviour forced them to arrest him.

PC Neil Blakey arriving at court
Police officer Neil Blakey denies manslaughter
He was handcuffed before being put into the back of a police van driven by PC Ellerington.

On arrival at the station in Hull city centre, Mr Alder, 37, was "booked in" by Sergeant Dunn, who was being assisted by PC Barr, Mr Curtis told the jury of five women and seven men.

"By the time Christopher Alder arrived at the police station he was deeply unconscious. He never regained consciousness," he said.

"He was dragged into the police station with his feet trailing behind him.

"He was placed on the custody area floor on his front with his head sideways.

"This had...the double effect of reducing his ability to breathe."

Mr Alder was then sick, said Mr Curtis, and breathed in some vomit and blood from a wound he sustained at the nightclub.

Ambulance called

"He was left in that condition for some three minutes by these police officers, grunting and breathing raucously every 10 seconds or so," said Mr Curtis.

Although the officers removed Mr Alder's handcuffs, he remained unconscious for a further seven minutes, still breathing raucously from time to time, Mr Curtis told the jury.

All five defendants were at the police station during this time, although PC Ellerington left the room after a comparatively short time.

Mr Curtis said: "Even if they didn't appreciate that his condition was immediately life-threatening, the ambulance was called when he stopped breathing far too late."

A post mortem examination did not show a single cause of Mr Alder's death, but experts considered the principle cause of his death as asphyxia.

The case continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Catherine Marston
"All five men deny all charges"
The BBC's Mike McKay
"There are a number of supporters of the Christopher Alder case"

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