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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Police officers' trial collapses
Chris Alder
Christopher Alder died in a custody suite
The trial of five Humberside Police officers who were charged with manslaughter has collapsed.

The officers were on trial at Teesside Crown Court after the death of former paratrooper Christopher Alder in police custody, four years ago.

On Friday, the judge threw out charges against the officers of manslaughter and misconduct in a public office.

The jury was told there was conflicting medical evidence about why Mr Alder became unconscious and what had killed him.


This was always going to be a difficult case, but we stand by the decision to prosecute

Christopher Enzor, Crown Prosecution Service
He died in the custody suite at Queens Gardens police station in Hull, while he was handcuffed and his trousers were round his knees.

Officers arrested Mr Alder after he became aggressive and abusive at Hull Royal Infirmary, where he was taken after being assaulted outside a city centre hotel, on 1 April 1998.

Mr Justice Roderick Evans instructed the jury to acquit officers Neil Blakey, 42, John Dunn, 40, Matthew Barr, 38, Nigel Dawson, 39, and Mark Ellerington, 36, of the manslaughter of Mr Alder.

The charge of misconduct in a public office was also dropped.

'Tragic death'

After the case Christopher Enzor, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was always going to be a difficult case, but we stand by the decision to prosecute.

"The key problem in the case was proving beyond reasonable doubt... the actions and omissions of the five police officers contributed more than minimally to the tragic death of Mr Alder.

"Our thoughts are now with the family of Christopher Alder.

"Naturally, we were also disappointed the jury will not have the opportunity to hear this case in full, but we respect the ruling of the judge."

Humberside Police Federation chairman Stuart Downes said he has already applied to senior officers in the force to reinstate the five men, who have been suspended since Mr Alder died.

Mr Downes said: "I'm delighted because the officers have maintained from day one that it was nothing more than a tragic accident.

"They did all they could to assist Christopher."


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