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CPS decision on the death of Paul Coker

15/11/2007

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 Paul Coker at Plumstead Police Station, South London on 6 August 2005.

Mr Coker was arrested initially for a breach of the peace early in the morning of the 6 August 2005 and, following a violent struggle, was taken to Plumstead Police Station.

Mr Coker was detained in a police cell and placed on 15 minute regular checks. A doctor was called to examine police officers who had been injured and to determine whether Mr Coker was fit to be detained at the police station.

When the doctor arrived he started to examine the police officers but when a police officer became concerned at Mr Coker's condition, the doctor attended the cell. Because of the struggle during the arrest the doctor did not enter the police cell but, having observed him from the cell door, he declared Mr Coker unfit to be detained and that an ambulance be called to take him to hospital. Mr Coker was also placed under constant surveillance at this stage.

An ambulance crew arrived within 15 minutes and waited for a police escort to take Mr Coker to hospital. As a result of the constant surveillance of Mr Coker, a dedicated detention officer asked for the ambulance crew to check his condition as a matter of priority. By the time the crew entered the cell five minutes later Mr Coker was in cardiac arrest. A defibrillator was obtained and cardio pulmonary resuscitation was started but unfortunately Mr Coker was pronounced dead at 6:45 am.

Following Mr Coker's death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission conducted an investigation into the police staff who had direct contact with Mr Coker that evening. The Metropolitan Police Service conducted a separate investigation into the doctor and ambulance crew in attendance at the scene.

The CPS considered charges of manslaughter by unlawful act, gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in a public office and offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

We would like to extend our sympathy to the family and friends of Mr Coker.

  1. CPS received the full IPCC file following its preparation on 13 July 2006 and the Metropolitan Police Service's full file following its preparation on 20 July 2006.
  2. Expert evidence was gathered from a forensic scientist, a consultant forensic pathologist, a police trainer, a consultant Accident and Emergency doctor, a consultant toxicologist, a senior forensic scientist, an expert in accident and medicine, an expert police personal safety instructor, a consultant Home Office pathologist and a professor of forensic chemistry.
  3. Mr Coker's cause of death was cocaine intoxication.
  4. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8102 or 8127.