A jury should decide the cause of Ian Tomlinson’s death


3:50 pm - July 23rd 2010

by Unity    


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Sarah CampbellThis is, or rather was, Sarah Campbell – and had she not committed suicide at the age of 18, while incarcerated in Styal women’s prison, she would now be 26 years old.

Campbell was a heroin abuser with a history of depression and she took her own life by way of an overdose of what were believed to be prescription drugs after serving a mere three days of a two and half year sentence for manslaughter.

However, it is not the circumstances of her death but the events that led to her conviction that bear serious consideration here.

The facts of the case that led to her incarceration were straightforward enough.

One the day of the incident for which she was convicted Campbell had, with another female addict, Kim Woodley, resorted to begging in Chester town centre in an effort to raise enough money for her next fix. Both women approached a 72-year old man, Amrit Bhandari, and began to hassle him for money. Bhandari refused their request, at which point Woodley tried to pressure him into giving into their appeal for money by alleging that he had raped her.

What neither Campbell or Woodley knew, or could have known at the time, was that Bhandari was not a well man and was suffering from a heart condition.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out the rest of the story. Faced with a pair of aggressive beggars, one of whom was threatening to cry rape, Mr Bhandari had a heart attack, keeled over and died, at which Campbell and Woodley legged it, although not before taking the time to relieve Mr Bhandari of the burden of his wallet and credit cards.

The purpose of relating this sorry tale is not to elicit sympathy for Sarah Campbell.

What is worth reflecting on her is the fact that, strictly speaking, Mr Bhandari died of natural causes – a heart attack – and that neither Campbell nor Woodley actually assaulted Mr Bhandari nor did they have intention of causing him serious harm, the latter having been freely acknowledged by the trial judge when passing sentence.

Nevertheless, in this case, neither the Crown Prosecution Service nor, subsequently, a jury, appears to have any difficulty in accepting the proposition that there was a clear causal link between the harassment that Mr Bhandari was subjected to, by Sarah Campbell and Kim Woodley and the heart attack that caused Mr Bhandari’s untimely death.

But then Sarah Campbell was an 18 year old drug user, not a middle-aged police officer.

In the case of Ian Tomlinson, the apparent inability of three separate post-mortems to settle on a definitive cause of death has been given by the Crown Prosecution Service as grounds for not pursuing criminal charges against the officer who assaulted Tomlinson minutes before his death. As such, the CPS contends, a causal link between the assault visited on Tomlinson and his subsequent death cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

In taking such a line, the implicit assumption would seem to be that were it to shown that Tomlinson did indeed die of a heart attack, as the doctor who conducted the first post-mortem suggested, the it would not be possible to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that that heart attack was precipitated by the earlier assault.

This, as the case of Sarah Campbell demonstates, is patently untrue – and  as such, the question of whether a causal link can be established between the assault on Ian Tomlinson and either or both of the proposed causes of death should have been a matter for a jury, and not a prosecutor, to decide.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Crime

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Reader comments


I don’t get it. I saw the video where the police officer hits Ian Tomlinson. And we know he died a few minutes later. I SAW THE GODDAMN VIDEO. What more is there to it? How can they even pretend they aren’t responsible?

i know – it’s crazy. we all saw the video. it’s just so unfair!

But how do you know your minds didn’t contrive the images you “saw”? How can you be positive it wasn’t just an evil dæmon? That’s about how epistemic the CPS are going to have to be.

But to be honest Unity, Sarah Campbell didn’t deserve to be imprisoned (and her mother, Pauline, was committed to exposing the treatment of women in prison and I have to say am honoured I met her and knew her well) Sarah needed support and compassion not prison.

Therefore I think it is kinda spurious to connect the crime Sarah was convicted for and the death of Ian Tomlinson. Two very different cases. Two very different scenarios. Two very different political dynamics. I can see where you are coming from just seems rather spurious. You can make the argument for justice, accountability and transparency regarding Ian Tomlinson without this specific compare and contrast.

Indeed I wholeheartedly agree that a jury should decide the cause of Ian Tomlinson’s death as opposed to theCPS/DPP abandoning any charge against this cop in question as it further illustrates that cops are a law unto themselves and not accountable for their crimes. From Blair Peach to Harry Stanley to Jean Charles de Menezes…Another injustice, another death at the hands of the cops, another whitewash and cover-up. As the saying goes, ‘British justice no justice’…

How many more?

I think you might be missing the point. Why conclusions of Freddy Patel, (now struck off the list of Home Office approved pathologists, and responsible for 3 other disputed post mortems of supicious deaths), should be deemed by the DPP to outweigh, or even to cast doubt upon the two subsequent post-mortems (which both reached the same conclusion re. internal bleeding), is surely the most serious cause for concern. Clearly, the ‘heart attack’ post mortem is not worth the paper it is written on.

I would also like to know what the police and criminal justice system ever hoped to gain from another cover-up, another exercise in police impunity.

Hmmm… the problem with this farce of an enquiry was that because they had one post-mortem saying one thing and another saying different, they would all have to be called as prosectution witnesses, any jury would automatically have Doubt in their minds and to convict they must be “beyond reasonable doubt”. A cynic would say that the coppers used a bent pathologist to cover up their crime but I’m sure nothing like that could happen in our modern utopia.

I am surprised because it sounds as if the CPS have had a secret and informal trial without the defendant making submissions. That’s essentially a kangaroo court and this method of suedo-legal process is used in a tiny minority of countries – usually countries that fear open legal process (eg – US client states in South America in the 70’s/80’s/90’s, North Korea, Myanmar, etc).

So, what do the CPS fear? Each of us is supposed to be furnished with a free, fair and open trial with the opportunity to appeal.

If the CPS felt that the suspect would not be given these rights then they should say, however, why are there not many other cases (eg – Sarah Campbell) found not guilty in this way by the CPS?

Individuals being tried in the CPS is without precedent and doesn’t fit with UK common law so they must explain themselves.

When a bullet enters a brain, the victim too dies of ‘natural causes’ (catastrophic trauma and haemorrhage of the brain). Perhaps that should be the next line of defence in the case of a shooting.

9. Shatterface

‘The purpose of relating this sorry tale is not to elicit sympathy for Sarah Campbell.’

Good, because you haven’t. If your only point is the double standards of the criminal system you could have found a more worthy victim.

The officer responsible for Tomlinson’s death should be prosecuted, those who covered up his manslaughter should be prosecuted and those who lied to the press should, at the very least, be changed with perverting the course of justice.

Sarah Campbell’s death in prison is q disgrace but her conviction was not. Aggressive begging and a false accusation of rape should have been reason enough for her prosecution even without Bhandari’s death – just as the assault on Thomlinson should have been enough to prosecute police officers even if he had lived.

There’s vicious intent behind all of these incidents.

Where’s Phil Hendren?

He’s already told anyone who will listen that there is reasonable doubt, and Iain Dale has admiringly endorsed his view.

Mind you, unlike Unity, he didn’t bring any comparison to the table.

Other views in the blogosphere aside, this is one of those cases that, whether there is reasonable doubt or no, *looks* bad. It reinforces the thought that the police may be above the law.

From that follows the potential lack of respect for, and trust in, law enforcement agencies. And that’s not good.

Amusingly, Ken Clarke’s chosen today to shovel more power into Kier Starmer’s lap. Waddya have to do to get convictions around here?

Oh…

I see…

Roll up a spliff.

Ian Tomlinson’s death is a stitch up. I was angry yesterday but today I recall thinking cynically when footage of his him being pushed to the ground was first shown ‘the cops will wriggle out of this somehow, they always do’

No British cop on duty has ever been convicted for killing a member of the public.

When I first moved to London in 1974 I at was at the anti-NF demo in Red Lion Square where a cop killed Kevin Gately (Blair Peach gets remembered Gately doesn’t for some reason). He was the first person to be killed on a public political demonstration in Great Britain in 55 years. But no cop was ever prosecuted for it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Gately

As for Sarah Campbell, she would probably be alive today if doctors were allowed to prescribe diamorphine (heroin), as they were under the ‘British System’ till 1970.

As a former junkie myself I am aware of the problems prescribing heroin, it is costly, it presents prescribing problems and a lot of the medical establishment are against it.

But in my opinion it is worth it to prevent other Sarah Campbells.

The only adverse side-effect of pharmaceutical heroin (apart from dependence) is chronic constipation. Compare and contrast with alcohol.

13. Evan Price

Sorry, Unity, but I disagree …

Different charges being considered – manslaughter, the killing of another without intent – requires there to be a proven connection between the action and the death – for which medical (pathological) evidence will have been required. If there had been an assault, she could have been charged with murder rather than manslaughter – as the assault, an intention to cause harm (technically serious harm), could have been enough to justify that charge. There will still have been evidence of the causal link – what lawyers sometimes refer to as the ‘but for’ test.

The problem in the Tomlinson case appears, from the statement of Kier Starmer QC, to be that the causal link between the assault by the policeman and the death is not known – the pathological evidence appears to have been compromised – and as the link is not known the CPS has decided that there is no prospect of successfully prosecuting a man for the manslaughter or murder of Mr Tomlinson.

The behaviour of the policeman in question when one considers the video that is in the public domain was, in my view, disgraceful and he should have been held to account for his actions – that that is not possible is a weakness in our law.

The Guardian:

The Crown Prosecution Service’s view clashes with that of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Guardian has learned the IPCC concluded there was sufficient evidence to charge the officer with manslaughter, and told Tomlinson’s family so. …

…a direct challenge to the CPS also emerged last night from Dr Nat Cary, the second forensic pathologist who examined Tomlinson’s body. He told the Guardian prosecutors made a factual error in dismissing a charge of actual bodily harm.

He said his report contained clear evidence that Tomlinson suffered injuries sufficient to support an ABHcharge. The CPS dismissed the injuries as “relatively minor” and thus not enough to support a charge of ABH in its written reasons given to the family.

Cary, speaking for the first time about the case, said: “I’m quite happy to challenge that. The injuries were not relatively minor. He sustained quite a large area of bruising. Such injuries are consistent with a baton strike, which could amount to ABH. It’s extraordinary. If that’s not ABH I would like to know what is.”

Quite.

Oh, and Channel 4 News:

The Crown Prosecution Service has admitted to Channel 4 News it made a mistake about the locations involved in Ian Tomlinson’s death during yesterday’s announcement that no charges were being brought against the police officer in the case, writes Home Affairs producer Marcus Edwards.

Way to miss the point you clever smartass twonks.

Unity is right, the Tomlinson case should be decided by a jury. That’s how justice is done here. Its been denied by procedures and prevarication and it gives a very fair impression of double standards.

16. Charlieman

@5 Clarice: “Why conclusions of Freddy Patel, (now struck off the list of Home Office approved pathologists, and responsible for 3 other disputed post mortems of supicious deaths), should be deemed by the DPP to outweigh, or even to cast doubt upon the two subsequent post-mortems (which both reached the same conclusion re. internal bleeding), is surely the most serious cause for concern.”

The difficulty is that Patel was the only person to examine Tomlinson’s intact body. His evidence has to be heard whether or not we have reservations about the quality of his post mortem. We also have to consider that the three other cases where Patel’s analysis is judged to be flawed are very different from Tomlinson’s death. Thus we have to accept that whilst Patel has been badly wrong on other occasions, he is not necessarily wrong all of the time. If he had said that the altercation with the police officer had contributed to Tomlinson’s death, we wouldn’t be debating Patel’s competence here.

At the same time, I do feel that the DPP’s weighting of the post mortem reports was bizarre. Or convenient.

tiis proves beyond any doubt this is a cover up.the police can get away with murder now.im not for one moment saying it was intent.but a peson did die and his family deserves justice.this have happened to many times over the years time and time again the cps have managed to wriggle there way out of it .its about time the police should be brought to justice.and this sort of injustice will never happen again.BUT I DOUBT IT.there should be a inquiry into the tomlinson case.and give this family the justice they deserve

what a joke the british justice is getting.there is one law for the people who can afford it ,And one law for the little people as the chairman of B.P.so rightly put it.

19. Get Over It

Come on, the only time you people get worked up that someone has evaded justice is when it’s a police officer — which happens very rarely. In fact, plenty of corrupt and criminal police officers have been jailed. But day-in and day-out psychopathic toe-rags like Raoul Moat make a mockery of justice — remember him anyone? — and you people keep silent. Or worse – react like someone let rip a real stinker if it’s suggested that sentences should be increased, life should mean life, and plenty more jails be built to accommodate Britain’s burgeoning criminal class who make life a misery for millions.

n fact, plenty of corrupt and criminal police officers have been jailed. But day-in and day-out psychopathic toe-rags like Raoul Moat make a mockery of justice — remember him anyone? — and you people keep silent.

Bizarre. Don’t remember anyone here celebrating him. But then right-wingers do have selective amnesia

whats R.M.got to do with this,/this is about getting justice for a innocent person .Im sure if it were one of your family you would want justice wouldt you sunny,muppet.

22. Charlieman

@19 Get Over It: “Come on, the only time you people get worked up that someone has evaded justice is when it’s a police officer — which happens very rarely. In fact, plenty of corrupt and criminal police officers have been jailed.”

Coppers are special. They are exempt from some laws and, it appears, the CPS exempts them from others.

Some of us recall the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Some of us recall circuitous reporting in the press about one of the suspect’s father and police informancy. How many policemen pursued voluntary retirement at the time of the Met’s internal investigations?

Harpy,

I deliberately picked out Sarah Campbell’s case to illustrate a very specific point, which is that both proposed causes of death in the Tomlinson case appear to give the CPS an eminently arguable manslaughter case and, as such, my view is that the question of whether manslaughter can be proven beyond reasonable doubt is one for a jury to determine.

The question of whether Campbell should have been jailed, back in 2003, takes us into a very different set of issues to the one I tried to illustrate here. That’s certainly an important debate, and one that’s well worth having, but sadly not one that’s germane to specific matter at hand.

24. the a&e charge nurse

[23] “both proposed causes of death in the Tomlinson case appear to give the CPS an eminently arguable manslaughter case and, as such, my view is that the question of whether manslaughter can be proven beyond reasonable doubt is one for a jury to determine”.

That’s simply not true based on the medical evidence alone;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jul/22/cps-statement-death-ian-tomlinson

The decisive issue seems to be the 3L collection of abdominal fluid.

Dr Patel noted a cirrhotic liver and attributed the fluid collection to ascities
http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Ascites.htm

For the fluid to have been frank blood (i.e. a torrential haemorrhage) there must have been a torn blood vessel – as far as I can tell none of the x3 medical experts have been able to prove this finding (please correct me if I am wrong).

I am not saying there should not be a trial just that the medical evidence does not seem clear cut?

25. Rhys Williams

I totally agree with shatterface.
How can anyone have sympathy for these two girls or the policeman.
They were both very wrong and should be punished.
The point that the copper should be tried is a good one but can be made without the analogy to these two low life’s.
Remember crying rape gives ammunition to the Daily Mail when it comes to real cases of rape and the right of anonymity

This just in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-10777287
“G20 death Pc faces gross misconduct disciplinary action”


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  84. Ian Tomlinson, the CPS and a serious miscarriage of justice « No Quiet Find

    […] (mostly because I’ve forgotten most of it) but I’d like to point out the case of Sarah Campbell. The facts were these: Sarah was a drug addict who took to begging to get some money. She confronted […]

  85. scots_subrosa

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  86. Giles Charter

    Ian Tomlinson: http://bit.ly/baJYLs a parallel case where CPS did prosecute, but she was a junkie not a cop! Some useful comments.

  87. Getting away with it « Al Jahom's Final Word

    […] bringing a manslaughter charge against the copper who struck Ian Tomlinson down, there are prior manslaughter cases that have been brought and convicted, on no more causal a link than between PC Dimbleby’s baton and Ian Tomlinson’s […]

  88. S Smith

    A jury should decide the cause of Ian Tomlinson’s death (Lib Con)
    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/07/23/16123/

  89. pablothehat

    Reading – A jury should decide the cause of #IanTomlinson’s death – http://is.gd/dJkJf #ukpolitics #justice

  90. Ceasefire Magazine – Police brutality, CPS pusillanimity and the future of demonstrations

    […] cases where the CPS has taken decisions quickly, in equally confusing circumstances. For example, in this case involving a similar set of […]

  91. Mick

    RT @chickyog: A jury should decide the cause of Ian Tomlinson’s death : http://bit.ly/de2qc9

  92. Trivial Pursuits

    Interesting, well-considered article about why a jury should have been used in the Tomlinson case: http://bit.ly/de2qc9

  93. Richard Jones

    RT @hypnic__jerk: Interesting, well-considered article about why a jury should have been used in the Tomlinson case: http://bit.ly/de2qc9





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