Deportee Killed Unlawfully

Three security guards could face criminal charges after an inquest ruled a father-of-five was unlawfully killed on a plane as he was deported from Britain.

Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died in hospital after he was "pushed or held down" with "unreasonable force" by the G4S officers on a British Airways flight to his native Angola.

Now prosecutors are to reconsider a decision last year not to bring charges against the men after the original police investigation.

The jury of seven men and three women at Isleworth Crown Court in west London recorded a majority verdict of nine to one of unlawful killing after four days of deliberations following an eight-week hearing.

After the verdict, a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said:

"Following this verdict, we will consider our original decision in light of any new evidence or information from the inquest, including any conclusions reached by the jury."

The G4S guards - Terence Hughes, Stuart Tribelnig and Colin Kaler - told the inquest they restrained Mr Mubenga when he attacked one of them soon after they accompanied him on the plane at Heathrow in October 2010.

During the struggle he was handcuffed with his hands around his back, sat down in a seat and had his head pushed down.

Mr Mubenga died of cardio-respiratory collapse, where the heart stops beating and a person stops breathing, the inquest found.

Prior to his deportation Mr Mubenga and his wife, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, had been living in Ilford, east London, after arriving in the UK from Angola in 1994.

Mrs Kambana said outside court her late husband was treated "worse than an animal" on the flight.

Calling him a "good man" and a "loving husband", she called for deportations to be better monitored.

"He was neglected on the plane worse than an animal," she said outside Isleworth Crown Court.

Other passengers on the flight said they heard Mr Mubenga wailing for help after saying he could not breathe, with one of the guards apparently replying: "Yes, you can."

Returning the verdict of unlawful killing, the jury foreman said:

"Based on the evidence we have heard, we have found Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down by one or more of the guards, causing his breathing to be impeded.  We find that they were using unreasonable force and acting in an unlawful manner.  The fact that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down, or a combination of the two, was significant - that is more, than minimal - cause of death.  The guards, we believe, would have known that they would have caused Mr Mubenga harm in their actions, if not serious harm."

No charges have ever been brought against the security guards, despite calls from Mrs Kambana and campaign groups that somebody ought to be held responsible for his death.

Mr Mubenga was in the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK permanently when it was decided he should be deported after serving two years in jail for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

After the verdict was read and Karon Monaghan QC, assistant deputy coroner for Hammersmith and Fulham brought the two-month inquest to a close, Mrs Kambana walked up to the jurors to embrace them.

She added outside court:

"What the witnesses said, they heard Jimmy asking for help. Nobody helped him. Jimmy should be here but because he didn't get help, that's why he's not here."

Mrs Kambana said changes need to be made to the way deportations are handled.

"Every time they are deporting someone they need to put someone to monitor them, how they are doing, how they are treating the deportee."

She said although Mr Mubenga had served a prison sentence for assault, he did not deserve to die for his crime.

"It's not worse than someone killing someone, because he didn't kill anyone," she said.  "He had done his sentence, finished it. Now he should be free. Why not? He was a human being, a loving person. He did not deserve his death. His death is worse than an animal."

A G4S spokeswoman said:

"The death of anyone in our care is deeply felt by all of us and the death of Mr Mubenga was a very tragic event.  The welfare of those in our care is always our top priority and we take great care to ensure that our employees on this contract, which has been carried out by another provider since November 2011, were made aware of their responsibilities in this respect.  Our employees were also trained, screened and vetted to the standards defined by strict Home Office guidelines.  We believe that at all times we acted appropriately and in full compliance with the terms of our contract with UKBA, and it should be noted that the Crown Prosecution Service found no basis on which to bring criminal charges against G4S in this case.  It would not be appropriate for us to comment on behalf of our former employees who were separately represented throughout these proceedings."

Scotland Yard said a thorough and complex 21-month investigation was carried out by the Met's Homicide and Serious Crime Command into Mr Mubenga's death.

During the inquiry, more than 300 witness statements were taken from passengers, cabin crew, ground staff and first responders from the emergency services.

Following a CPS decision, the three former G4S guards arrested on October 18 2010 were released on July 17 2012 with no further action.

A Home Office spokesman said:

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Mubenga's family.  We are very clear that we expect the highest standards of integrity and behaviour from all of our contractors."

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said:

"This is yet another stain on the reputation of G4S. The case is now stronger than ever for the Government to take past performance into account for companies in receipt of procurement contracts."

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:

"This judgment is a victory for the rule of law. It establishes the premise that in a democracy we should not violently maltreat people facing deportation, regardless of the reasons for their removal from the UK."

 

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