Judge rules out prosecuting police over prisoner's death

Washington Police Station
Washington Police Station

The mother of a Wearside man who suffered a fatal heart attack after he was detained for over 24 hours at a police station has failed in a bid to force a prosecution over his death.

Stephen Berry died after he was rushed to hospital around midnight on March 29, 2013 from Washington Police Station.

The 43-year-old had been held at the station since the afternoon of March 28 - when he was arrested for a bail offence at his home in Easington Lane.

His mother, Eileen Oliver, criticised the level of care provided to her son while detained and claimed his life might have been saved with earlier medical treatment.

Mr Berry’s death was looked into by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who ruled against prosecuting any of the officers on duty at the time.

The court heard Mrs Oliver objected to the DPP’s decision “not to prosecute the custody sergeant for unlawful act manslaughter on the basis of gross negligence”.

At the High Court in London yesterday, her lawyers urged judges to order the DPP to “consider the evidence and decision afresh”.

But Lord Justice Davis, sitting with Mrs Justice Andrews, said it was for the DPP to assess the evidence and the court would not intervene.

He concluded: “The decision ultimately was one for the judgment of the DPP, and there is no proper basis for impugning it.”

An inquest into Mr Berry’s death has yet to take place.

Mr Berry’s death was also investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The findings will not be made public until the inquest has been held.

At 11.39pm on the Friday, concerned for his well-being, an ambulance was called to Washington Police Station at the request of a doctor.