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Police staff charged following 2012 death of Thomas Orchard in Exeter


A police sergeant and two custody detention officers have been charged with manslaughter and misconduct in public office following the death of Thomas Orchard in Exeter in October 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced today [Wednesday 17 December 2014].

Mr Orchard was a 32-year-old who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and in a condition of relapse. He was arrested and restrained on the morning on 3 October 2012. He was taken to Heavitree Police Station Custody Unit and removed from the police van into the holding area and then a cell. Emergency medical assistance was rendered and he was taken to hospital, where he later died.

A full file of evidence was submitted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in October 2014 following their investigation into the way police officers are alleged to have conducted themselves during their contact with Mr Orchard.

Malcolm McHaffie, CPS Deputy Head of Special Crime, said: "Sergeant Jan Kingshott and Custody Detention Officers Simon Tansley and Michael Marsden, all of Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, have been charged with the manslaughter of Thomas Orchard and with misconduct in public office.

"As part of our review of this case we have also decided that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against three Devon & Cornwall police constables and an on-site custody nurse employed by Serco.

"The decision to prosecute was reached after careful consideration of the evidence and was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is sufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.

"All three individuals will appear at Exeter Magistrates' Court on 29 January 2015.

"Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."


Notes to Editors

  • The charges are as follows:
  • Manslaughter (by Unlawful Act). Simon Tansley, Michael Marsden and Jan Kingshott between the 2nd October 2012 and 11th October 2012 unlawfully killed Thomas Orchard namely, by the use of unreasonable force.
  • Manslaughter (by Gross Negligence). Simon Tansley, Michael Marsden and Jan Kingshott between the 2nd October 2012 and 11th October 2012 unlawfully killed Thomas Orchard namely, by gross negligence, in that:

i) As a detainee custody officer he owed a duty of care towards Thomas Orchard who was in his custody;

ii) He breached that duty of care in restraining Thomas Orchard by :

(a) Using methods or actions of restraint which unduly restricted his breathing;
(b) Maintaining him in a position which restricted his breathing over a prolonged and unnecessary period of time;
(c) Failing to have sufficient regard as to whether his ability to breathe properly was impaired.
iii) That breach amounted to gross negligence;
iv) That breach exposed Thomas Orchard to the risk of death and it was a substantial cause of his death.

  • Misconduct in a public office, contrary to Common Law. Simon Tansley, Michael Marsden and Jan Kingshott on 3rd October 2012 at Exeter, while acting as public officers, wilfully misconducted themselves in relation to their dealings with Thomas Orchard.
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  • The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
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