Family of Seaham grandad who died in police custody to speak at Government conference to call for inquest support
The loved ones of a grandfather who died while in police custody are to lobby the Government to help families like them.
Dad-of-two Lenny McCourt died after falling ill following his arrest, having been sprayed with an incapacitant, handcuffed, and transported in the back of a police van from his home in Ash Crescent, Seaham, to cells in Peterlee.
An inquest into his death was told the 44-year-old most likely died after suffering heart failure, yet it took five minutes after arriving at Peterlee to remove his cuffs and efforts started to revive him – and Coroner Andrew Tweddle ruled officers failed to provide adequate first aid.
At that hearing, his sister-in-law Tracey McCourt represented the family, after they were told they were not entitled to any legal support in the wake of Lenny’s death in September 2010.
Since then, they have campaigned for better provision for families during the inquest and other legal processes.
Now Tracey, 54, and Lenny’s brother Gene, 57, have joined a panel discussion at a Ministry of Justice conference led by Inquest, a charity which provides expertise on state-related deaths.
The Westminster discussion, held on Thursday, January 30, also featured others who have lost relatives while in the care of police, mental health or prisons.
Sunderland’s senior coroner, Derek Winter also attended the conference, presenting a video of an interview about families’ experiences and advocacy at inquests.
Tracey, who works as a cleaner, said: “We’re often talking about vulnerable families who have been through traumatic experiences and some are not as confident as me at speaking.
“At this conference, we’ll be able to get across what some families are facing.
“It’s a privilege to be asked by Inquest.
“I want to get across that we shouldn’t have been left to do it in the first place at Lenny’s inquest.
“It was more than nine years ago now and we’re still in exactly the same position.”