The Chair of an Essex Police misconduct meeting on 26 September 2019 upheld one of three allegations of misconduct, regarding the conduct of Police Constable Trower of Essex Police, following the death of Raymond Knight.
The misconduct meeting found that PC Trower failed to provide adequate care and attention towards Raymond by leaving him unattended following his arrest, which demonstrated a lack of diligence in exercising his duties and responsibilities. PC Trower received a written warning for breaching standards of professional behaviour.
Raymond was 55 years old when he died at Basildon Hospital on 19 November 2017, after suffering from a seizure at Grays police station. An inquest concluded in April 2019 that the cause of his death was cocaine toxicity.
The misconduct meeting, which lasted one day and was held in private, was intended to examine the actions of PC Trower in relation to the search of Raymond, the consideration of potential risks posed during his search and arrest, and the duty of care provided to Raymond. PC Trower denied all three allegations.
The meeting heard that when Raymond was stopped in his car by police, PC Trower carried out a roadside search of his outer clothing and another officer searched his car. Drugs were found in the search of the car but not on Raymond’s person. The Chair concluded that PC Trower appears to have conducted the search in accordance with expectations.
At the meeting, PC Trower described Raymond as being fully compliant, amicable and calm during his search and arrest. Both PC Trower and a second police officer had concluded that Raymond had nothing on him and therefore there were no illegal substances that Raymond could dispose of or consume.
The inquest into Raymond’s death heard that multiple items were found after his arrest, including two paper wraps of cocaine, a grip sealed bag containing a cutting agent and traces of Raymond’s DNA in the holding cell, and a ripped piece of plastic bag in his outer jacket at Basildon Hospital and in the police vehicle - both containing traces of cocaine and his DNA. The Coroner at the inquest directed the jury as a matter of law that due to insufficient evidence they should not attempt to conduct a forensic analysis as to whether or not there was a match between the ripped pieces of plastic identified.
However, the Chair of the misconduct meeting on Friday concluded that he believed the ripped bags were two parts of the same bag. He found that Raymond had sufficient opportunity to retrieve the package when PC Trower broke his observation of Raymond by walking away from the vehicle to speak with a third officer. As such, PC Trower failed in his duty of care at this time.
Teresa Knight, wife of Raymond Knight said: “We have mixed feelings following the misconduct meeting. Whilst we welcome the Chair’s finding that PC Trower failed to provide adequate care and attention towards Raymond by leaving him unattended, we are disappointed to learn that he did not find misconduct in respect of the remaining allegations.
As a family, we will never be able to get over the shock, trauma and loss we have suffered following Raymond’s death. We feel that we and Raymond have been severely let down by Essex Police as well as by the subsequent investigations into his death. Although it has been almost two years since his death, it still hurts us deeply.”
ITN's Manveer Bhullar worked closely with Chris Williams of Garden Court Chambers and charity INQUEST over the course of this case.
If you or a family member have been affected by police misconduct or failures, you can make an enquiry online here or by calling us on 020 3909 8100.
This press release first appeared the INQUEST website on 3 October 2019. The original release can be found here.