Haywards Heath: Sussex Police Officers Investigated Over Death

21 October 2014, 15:26 | Updated: 21 October 2014, 16:10

Five Sussex Police officers have been told they're under formal investigation over the death of a Haywards Heath man who became unwell in the back of a police van earlier this year.

External regulator, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, has served the officers gross misconduct notices as part of the investigation into events in July 2014.

Duncan Tomlin, 32, was restrained and placed in the police van shortly before midnight on July 26, after Sussex Police were called to a disturbance in Ryecroft, Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

An IPCC spokesman says the officers approached Mr Tomlin and during the course of their interaction with him, restrained him, and placed him in a police van with three officers where he became unresponsive.

He said: "He was not breathing, CPR was performed, and he was subsequently transferred by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he died on July 29."

IPCC investigators have obtained statements from significant witnesses, viewed footage of the incident, and reviewed initial statements from the officers involved which were made on the night of the incident.

The investigation is looking at potential gross misconduct matters and a police sergeant and four police constables have been served with notices advising their conduct is subject to investigation, the IPCC spokesman said.

The officers will be interviewed in due course, he added.

He continued: "IPCC investigators are examining the actions of officers, including the restraint used on Mr Tomlin in the street and in the rear of the police van, and the medical treatment provided by them.

"We are also examining the referral of the incident to the IPCC and whether there was a significant delay in the police contacting Mr Tomlin's family."

Paul Tomlin, Mr Tomlin's father, said: "The family are devastated by Duncan's death. We need to know how this came about.

"We expect the IPCC to carry out a thorough, robust and well-resourced investigation in a timely manner in order to establish this.

"To this end we welcome the fact that gross misconduct notices have been served on five officers involved in the case as we hope this reflects the gravity with which the IPCC are treating this investigation."