Tuesday, March 24, 2015

High-flying teen, 17, who killed himself after arrest for drink-driving was mocked by police for being middle-class

Class animosities are vicious in Britain but are normally kept quiet by all concerned

A report into the death of an A-grade student who killed himself days after being arrested for drink driving found 'evidence of a concerning culture' at the police station where he was held.

Joe Lawton, 17, shot himself dead at his parent's £850,000 home in Disley, Stockport, two days after being held at Cheadle Heath police station for drink driving.

During an inquest into his death, lawyers for his parents claimed that police had mocked him for his middle class upbringing and his new car, contributing to his death.

Now an Independent Police Complaints Commission report into Mr Lawton's death, made public for the first time, confirms there were 'failings' at Cheadle Heath police station where the teen was held.

The IPCC probe, which was kept hidden from the teen's inquest but has been revealed by the Manchester Evening News, uncovered 'evidence of a concerning culture' at Cheadle Heath.

Following the report one Greater Manchester Police sergeant was moved from custody duty due to ‘inappropriate behaviour’, while another was given ‘management advice’, the report says.

Two custody detention officers were also subjected to sanctions as a result of the investigation, according to a copy of the IPCC report obtained by the Manchester Evening News.

Mr Lawton was stopped by police in Hazel Grove in August 2012 while driving his new Peugeot 207 home from a party, just weeks after passing his test.

A breathalyzer showed he was over the drink drive limit and he was arrested.

The teen, who had recently gained one A and four Bs in his AS-Levels and was working on his university application and travel plans, was then held for seven hours overnight.

But due to an 'anomaly' in custody laws meaning 17-year-olds are treated as adults, Mr Lawton's parents Nick and Jane were not informed of the arrest after he opted not to tell them.

Two days later he was found dead at home by his father. Next to the body was the police charge sheet, and a note saying he thought he had 'ruined his life'.

His parents have since led a successful campaign to have the age limit raised to 18, after an inquest was told Mr Lawton's suicide could ‘very likely’ have been avoided if they were informed.

The IPCC report, together with a response from Greater Manchester Police, were prepared in time for the inquest but were not submitted as evidence, meaning this is the first time they have been made public.

Nick and Jane Lawton said the inquest was turned into a ‘gruelling and frustrating’ process by the police's failure to reveal the reports.

In a statement, they hit out at the ‘behaviour and attitude of the custody officers’, adding: 'We love Joe and will continue to miss him every day for the rest of our lives.'

The IPCC said the force has said it has ‘learned lessons and had been improving working practice’.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who gave evidence at the inquest, said: 'Our thoughts continue to be with the family of Joseph Lawton, and we sympathise with the issues they have raised following this tragedy.

'When Joseph died in 2012 there was a confusing anomaly where the Police and Criminal Evidence act led the police to treat 17-year-olds as adults, whilst the Children’s Act stated that 17-year-olds should be treated as children.

'Following the case and a judicial review in 2013 the government have changed the legislation relating to 17-year-olds in custody.

'The new legislation states that when a 17-year-old is arrested they are now treated as children for the purposes of informing people about the child’s detention.

'While in custody Joseph made the decision that he did not want anyone to be informed of his arrest. However, if this happened today we would have informed his parents.'

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

No comments: