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CPS decision on the death of Frank Ogboru


The Crown Prosecution Service has today advised all concerned parties that there is insufficient evidence to charge any individuals with any offences in relation to the tragic death of Mr Frank Ogboru, 43, who died after police restrained him in Woolwich, South London. Mr Ogboru, a Nigerian businessman, was visiting London at the time.

Following Mr Ogboru's death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission conducted an investigation. The CPS considered charges of involuntary manslaughter by unlawful act, gross negligence manslaughter and other offences such as misconduct and offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Firstly, the arrest itself was lawful. There had already been a disturbance at the apartment and, when Mr Ogboru sought to return to the premises, the officers used their power of arrest to prevent a further breach of the peace.

In carrying out an arrest, the officers were entitled to use such force as was reasonable in the circumstances that existed at the time. Police training is that once officers have achieved control of the arrested person they should get him to his feet, but experts on restraint who have watched the video were of the opinion that the officers never achieved control until moments before Mr Ogboru lost consciousness.

The period of restraint was brief, taking only a few minutes. It was only if Mr Ogboru had been deliberately kept prone on his stomach for a significant period that it could properly be concluded that the force used was unreasonable. We therefore concluded that a jury would find that the restraint was not unlawful.

Lastly, we considered whether the officers had been grossly negligent in their restraint. The officers owed Mr Ogboru a duty of care, but we were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to persuade a jury that they had breached their duty of care. A jury would have to be satisfied that the officers had acted in a way that no reasonable officers would have done in the circumstances. Although a number of witnesses were critical of the police, there were other witnesses present who were not.

We also considered other possible offences such as misconduct in public office and breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 but concluded that there was insufficient evidence for these to be proved.

The CPS would like to express to Mr Ogboru's family our deepest sympathy for their bereavement and for the great distress that they must have suffered since his death. As in all such cases we have offered a meeting to the family should they wish further explanation of our decision.

  1. On 26 September 2006 at around 22.34 a resident of Vista Buildings in Calderwood St, Woolwich phoned police because of a disturbance. About seven minutes later two Metropolitan Police officers arrived in the street outside the building. They were approached by Mr Ogboru, followed shortly after by a woman who had been staying in the same apartment.
  2. The officers feared a breach of the peace if both were allowed to return to the apartment so they asked Mr Ogboru to leave. Mr Ogboru became agitated and went to return inside the building. As the officers believed that there might be a resumption of the breach of the peace, they arrested Mr Ogboru.
  3. Mr Ogboru resisted attempts to place him in handcuffs and efforts to subdue him using CS spray failed to have any effect. The two officers managed to take Mr Ogboru to the floor but were still unable to get the handcuffs on him and it was only with the arrival of two more officers that the officers were able to get the handcuffs secured.
  4. Whilst being restrained, Mr Ogboru was clearly in distress and this is confirmed by the witnesses present and a mobile phone recording. Because Mr Ogboru continued to struggle, the officers did not release their hold on him. Other officers arrived and at about the same time one of the officers restraining Mr Ogboru became concerned and the officers realised that he had collapsed. Despite strenuous efforts all attempts at resuscitation failed. The pathologist gave 'Asphyxia during restraint' as the cause of death.
  5. The CPS received the full IPCC file following its preparation on 6 December 2007. The case was reviewed by the Special Crime Division.
  6. All cases passed to the CPS have to pass two tests: the evidential and the public interest test. We considered first whether there was sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction. This means that a jury is more likely than not to convict a person of a criminal offence. Only if this evidential test is passed, can we then go on to consider whether it is in the public interest that there should be a prosecution.
  7. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 6088 or 8127.
  8. The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution;
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute;
    • Preparing cases for court;
    • Presentation of cases at court;

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on this website.