Habib inquest Day Six 10th Feb 2015

There is no 'justice' - 'just us'

At the inquest all the police officers have been given a warning about mentioning previous history/incidents. However all of them so far have persisted to try and raise details about Habib in front of the jury and Coroner.

PC Pomery continued to give evidence today. He confirmed that he applied pressure to the hypoglossal to try and open his mouth and confirmed that later he was the officer who placed Habib in a recovery position.  This was in accordance to his training and that it was DC Liles who assisted him.

He did not notice any changes on his face in terms of colouration. Pomery stated that he was still breathing but that this was gentle in nature. He did not contemplate giving CPR to Habib due to this. He did not hear Emma shouting and screaming but he did talk to her about he had taken that day. Pomery confirmed that he felt that Habib was spaced out and was under the influence of drugs.

He was questioned about levels of force from his training. It was suggested that the use of force was level 6 and was asked about the level of force that was used. Bruising was found around his throat which was accepted by him. He confirmed that his lips were moving and the mouth was slightly open so how could it not be opened by him or the other officers

Pomery was also asked about takedown procedures that he was familiar with but was not aware with rear take down technique. He confirmed that at one point there were four officers on Habib. Again it was put to him about why he did not handcuff Habib if he suspected that he was feigning. Confirmed that Habib was getting tired – and he was asked again about duration of the restraint which he was unsure of.

He was questioned again about positional asphyxia in relation to the restraint of Habib. Agreed about the risk factors identified – drugs/stress and that all apply in this instance. No communication between officers but Pomery says that this is not unusual and there is only one way communication with Habib. Agreed it was possible that he could not have been able to talk due to package in his throat.

He confirmed that the actions of himself and the officers actions MAY have contributed to his death.  The ‘ongoing’ risk assessment of Habib was not communicated to the other officers. Grabbing of the neck compressed his airways and if he was unconscious may not have been able to cough it up. Pomery gave no CPR as he felt that Habib was breathing and this was from his first aid training. He was questioned by the family’s lawyer about his training on this and the ABC method.

He also went through procedure of giving statements and doing this with other officers. Why was the first version of his statement torn up? This statement was different from the statement that he signed. Pomery said he took advice from the police solicitor about the changes and said that in hindsight that he regrets doing this. Attempts were made to reconstruct his statement at the last inquest.

In his redacted statement the wording from ‘grabbing’ to ‘holding’ the throat was changed. Under questioning he agreed that was a downplaying of this action. There was no mention of Mr Ullah going ‘limp’ in his final statement and this was taken out from his original statement. TVP Counsel Gibbs asked Pomery about the statement process and he confirmed that this was the first time that he has been asked to amend a statement in his police career. He was not happy changing the words and would have stuck to the word ‘grabbed’.

The fourth officer involved in the restraint PC Wynne gave evidence via Skype. Tony Metzer QC  was first to cross examine PC Wynne and asked him questions about the previous evidence that he gave and his role in the restraint. He asked Wynne about how Habib looked when he was talking to Emma. In Dec 2010 from his own statement he said that Habib was breathing and his mouth was slightly open and his lips were moving. He was asked to read a passage that confirmed this but seemed to be denying this now. He maintained that the jaw/mouth was wedged shut but could not find it in his statement. He was not sure how he knows this but did not see this himself.

In response to Habib suddenly going ‘limp’ he like ALL the other officers felt that he was feigning it. Never crossed his mind that this was very serious but he would have called the ambulance himself if the other officers hadn’t. When the other officers were checking for his pulse he had a slight concern before the paramedic arrived and that he might have stopped breathing. He still maintained that Habib was play acting. His descriptions of his colleague’s actions was very poor especially given that he was not prominently involved in the restraint.

He was asked about the back slap that DS Liles administered to Habib and that he stated that the last time that he saw this being used he was being at school and that his Mum had told him about this! He confirmed that this was not an authorised technique. He does not agree that Habib was not given time to respond to DS Liles requests. In terms of the statement process Wynne cannot recall why his original statement was changed from Habib ‘mumbling to me’ to ‘looking at me’. His feeling was that this was irrelevant.

His reference to him being ‘fucked’ was taken out and reference to PC Bazeley ‘grabbing’ his arm was also removed. Again the reasoning for changing the statements was very poor and offensive to the family. The reference to Emma saying he was being strangled was also taken out. He maintains that he was following the advice of the lawyer but was not completely comfortable with it.

The passage about the officers standing around Habib was deleted. Wynne felt it was sensible that it should be taking out as he could not account for the other officers movements. The spit sounding noises references was also removed but does not know for what reason this happened. Passage about Habib breathing was deleted and Wynne said this was taken out because he is not ‘medically trained’. Crucially the name of a witness (who he had a short conversation with) was removed from his statement. The family have serious concern that this is withholding evidence and that a potential witness could have been missed through this.

TVP Counsel asked the officers about his training to do with writing statements and was again challenged about why he was asking Wynne about previous history. Questioned about noises that Habib was making and his mouth being slightly open and was asked to do this on camera for the jury. Jurors asked questions about whether he knew how long a centimetre is and also whether he could see a lump in Habib’s mouth. He did know the measurement but he did not see a lump.

Officers continue to only give evidence pertaining to their actions and not the actions to the other officers. It is extraordinary for us to hear that PC Wynne was able to see that Habib was breathing from a distant (after the restraint) BUT unable to see which of his colleagues were restraining him at different times. There may be legal reasons for this approach but it just gives the impression of no co-ordination/planning and wilful neglect on their part.

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