Page last updated at 00:44 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Cell coma man was 'failed by police' IPCC report finds

Garry Reynolds
Mr Reynolds says he is angry that no-one has been charged

A call has been made for a public inquiry to examine the case of a man left with a brain injury after being found in a coma in police custody.

Garry Reynolds' lawyers made the demand after a report found systemic failings at Brighton police custody centre.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said officers and Reliance private contractor staff had failed to provide adequate care.

Sussex Police said it had since acted to rectify its working practices.

The IPCC could not conclusively say how Mr Reynolds, who is now 41, received the serious head injury in 2008.

But it said there had been a "collective failure" to realise something was wrong by police and Reliance employees.

Reliance is a firm of private contractors, working as custody assistants, over whom the IPCC has no jurisdiction.

The "collective failure" contributed to him "remaining in a coma longer than he should", the watchdog found.

I think it's disgusting that no-one is being charged. I think they should all lose their jobs
Garry Reynolds

Mr Reynolds has been left paralysed on his left side and suffers from a permanent brain injury. His long-term prognosis is not known.

Solicitors for Mr Reynolds, from Southwick, near Brighton, said the public would be very worried to learn that Reliance staff were "beyond the reach" of a publicly accountable discipline system.

And they said only a fully independent inquiry would help the public know if "profit - or care for detainees is paramount".

'Insufficient evidence'

IPCC investigators said that a custody sergeant had assumed Mr Reynolds was drunk and would sleep off the effects rather than thinking he may be ill.

A written risk assessment was not completed and there were failures in carrying out accurate cell checks and completing custody records properly, the report said.

It added that there was a "collective absence of understanding" of how to spot signs of alcohol intoxication and a lack of team-working among all custody staff.

Mr Reynolds was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in West Street, Brighton, shortly after 0230 GMT on 2 March 2008.

He was restrained with handcuffs and taken to a cell at the custody centre where he was sprayed with incapacitant spray and had his restraints removed.

Shortly after 1100 GMT that morning, Mr Reynolds failed to respond to custody staff and was unconscious.

He was transferred to hospital where he was found to have a serious head injury.

The actions of 14 officers were investigated, the IPCC said, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring a case to court.

Two custody sergeants and the custody inspector received "formal advice".

Police regret

The police watchdog also handed a file to the Health and Safety Executive amid concerns about the actions of the police sergeants and private contractors.

Mr Reynolds said: "I think it's disgusting that no-one is being charged. I think they should all lose their jobs. I feel so angry at the IPCC, they've let them get away with it."

In a statement, the force said: "Sussex Police regrets that Gary Reynolds was not adequately cared for while he was in our custody on March 2 2008.

"We acknowledge the findings of the IPCC independent investigation which is critical of certain working practices within Brighton custody centre.

"As soon as we became aware of these we took action to rectify them. In addition, several staff were given advice in relation to the performance of their duties."

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