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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Officers cleared over man's death
Michael Powell
Michael Powell lived with his mother in Birmingham
Six West Midlands Police officers have been cleared of all charges after a Birmingham man died in police custody.

Michael Powell, 38, died at a police station after his arrest in Lozells.

Sgt Chris Wilson, 31, Insp Tony Guest, 49, Pc Steven Hollyman, 46, and Pc Nigel Hackett, 40, were cleared of misconduct in a public office.

Pcs Tim Lewis, 33, and David Hadley, 27, were found not guilty of battery and were later cleared of dangerous driving charges against them.

Officers had been called to the home of Mr Powell's mother after a disturbance in 2003.

Mr Powell, who had been suffering mental health problems, later died after being taken to Thornhill Road police station.

'Just another statistic'

Mr Powell's family said in statement to the media outside court: "All we are seeking is justice - sadly, today's verdict is a travesty of just that.

"This is yet another instance where a fit, young man has come into contact with the police, via a restraint, taken into custody and within a matter of hours is pronounced dead.

Pcs Timothy Lewis and David Hadley
Pcs Lewis and Hadley were cleared of battery and dangerous driving

"Mikey was a hard-working, loving father of three boys - that's how he will be remembered by his family and friends.

"But for others, Mikey has become just another statistic, another person added to the growing list of deaths in custody where no police officer has been held accountable."

Four other officers were cleared of misconduct in a public office earlier in the trial after a direction by the judge at Leicester Crown Court.

Those charges were dropped because a sound recording of CCTV taken at the police station on the night of Mr Powell's death became merged with audio from the film Dogs of War playing on a shelf nearby.

We are deeply saddened by this case and must never lose sight of the fact that Michael Powell died when in our care
West Midlands Police

None of the officers had ever been accused of causing Mr Powell's death and a number of pathologists could not find a cause for his death.

Tim Coolican, head of the criminal department at Russell Jones & Walker in Birmingham, issued a statement on behalf of the 10 officers welcoming the jury's verdicts.

"The officers have always believed that they acted properly to deal with a violent and disturbed man, having been called to do so by his family," he said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been supervising an investigation into the circumstances of Mr Powell's death.

'Great distress'

IPCC Commissioner John Crawley said the body and Northamptonshire Police, which investigated the officer's actions, will consider whether any disciplinary issues should be referred to West Midlands Police.

"We will also want to examine any organisational learning issues arising out of this incident, such as changes in working practices or policies for the force, to discuss and agree changes where necessary."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened by this case and must never lose sight of the fact that Michael Powell died when in our care.

"His death is a tragedy for his family and friends and our thoughts are with them at this time."

Police Federation chairman Jan Berry said the case should never have come to court in the first place.

She said: "By pursuing this prosecution, the CPS and the IPCC have failed the victim and his family, the police officers and the criminal justice system.

"Not only has it caused great distress to the officers involved, it has cost the public purse several million pounds."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the reaction to the court result



SEE ALSO
Four officers cleared of neglect
28 Jun 06 |  West Midlands
Officers 'knelt on' man who died
16 May 06 |  West Midlands
Police 'debated suspect's state'
11 May 06 |  West Midlands
Police officers ran over suspect
10 May 06 |  West Midlands

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