Tony was found dead in a Spanish police cell in the early hours of 23rd October 2015. He had been enjoying a family holiday in Benidorm but in the early hours of 23rd October the police were called to his hotel by a member of staff after they had prevented Tony from trying to leave the hotel and reported that he had been aggressive.
The police arrived, arrested Tony and took him to nearby Benidorm Police Station. He was found dead in his cell just 18 minutes after arriving at the station.
An inquest into Tony’s death was held at Bolton Coroner’s Court between 13th and 16th March 2017.
The inquest heard evidence that there had been no attempt by police officers to resuscitate Tony or provide any medical treatment when he was found unresponsive in his cell and that they waited for a medical team to arrive.
In their narrative conclusion the inquest jury recognised that there was evidence that Tony had been planning for life in the future and that there was nothing in his demeanour to suggest that he wasn’t looking forward to the future.
The jury also highlighted a report by the Police Trade Union Representative published in May 2015 regarding Benidorm Police Station that included a number of significant recommendations including modification of cell doors to remove bars, manned surveillance of the cells at all times and an additional surveillance camera in the corridor. The jury found that there was no evidence that any of the recommendations had been implemented at the time of Tony’s death.
The Coroner stated following the conclusion of the inquest that she intends to write to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) regarding safety conditions in custody in Spain and the rest of Europe and that she will publish a Prevention of Future Deaths report.
Catherine Abbott, Tony’s partner, said:
“I know that Tony did not mean to take his own life and I’m relieved that the jury recognise that. It is clear that the police did not do things as they should. You should expect to be safe when you are with the police and sadly this was not the case for Tony.
“Police should be trained in basic CPR and the space where people are held must be safe. I’m very grateful to the Coroner and Greater Manchester Police for carrying out such a thorough investigation and seeking answers about what happened. I’d also like to thank my legal team who have been a great support throughout this difficult process.”
“In concluding that Tony’s death was contributed to by neglect, the jury has recognised serious failings on behalf of the Spanish Police to adequately keep him safe whilst he was in their care. I welcome the fact that the Coroner will report to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to seek to protect other, often vulnerable, people detained by police whilst abroad. I hope that this means a similar tragedy does not happen to another family.”
Tony’s family were represented pro bono by Anna Moore, solicitor at Leigh Day and Keina Yoshida, barrister at Doughty Street.