The last remaining officer PC Grainger gave evidence this morning. Again she was warned about raising any previous history but also about the previous CPS investigation into the officers and was asked to read her statement.
She was involved in restraining Emma but also watched some of Habib’s restraint Grainger was asked by the Coroner about the paperwork that she referred to in her statement and confirmed that all persons were compliant up until DS Liles intervention.
Grainger confirmed that she saw PC Pomery and DS Liles holding his arms. She saw the first back slap by Liles but was also dealing with Emma at this time but it appeared to be a hard blow. Further on she confirmed that she saw him on his knees with his arms locked and heard DS Liles say ‘break his arms’ and she took that to mean break his arm lock but Emma reacted angrily and she had to deal with her regarding this.
She saw PC Wynne dealing with Morris Nedd but did not see him take part in the restraint. PC Grainger then confirmed that she saw Habib in a ‘recovery’ position but was not able to get a proper view. She heard Habib making a coughing noise and in her statement it states that was as if he was trying to cough something up. Grainger also witnessed him move his mouth/lips in a circular motion. She saw the paramedic roll Habib over and when she saw his face/eyes she realised that he was going grey and that this was serious.
Grainger referred to a ‘cardiac arrest’ that she overheard the paramedic and writing down the time. She was asked about the duration of the restraint and she stated that this was a couple of minutes. She was also questioned about the length of time between the back slap and officers grabbing him. She did not recall Habib saying anything after the car port.
Tony Metzer QC on behalf of the family asked Grainger about the sequence of events with the backslap and the grabbing of the arms. She said that there was a possibility that there have been an additional blow to the back of Habib as he was standing but she confirmed that she did see him ‘lurch’ forward from the back slap that she saw. She does not recall trying to explain the break the arm command but had to deal with Emma getting ‘hysterical’ and was successful in getting her to calm down at that point. He asked her to think about the total period of restraint and also referred to her smoking a cigarette. Her statement reflects the different phases and that the length of time that passed was 5-10 minutes.
In her evidence last time she gave more detail about hearing Habib trying to ‘cough something up’ and his jaw and chin moving around. She felt that at that point that he was still alive. She did not recall Emma shouting that Habib was going blue. Grainger did not recall seeing any signs of life but her view was obscured but that when she saw him being turned over that noticed his facial colour and that he was ‘lifeless’.
Asked about changes to her statement regarding Emma’s reaction and the words about ‘coughing up’ were all deleted. Grainger agreed that it could be seen as downplaying this and these comments should have remained. Further clarification was sought from Grainger about the timings of stop and search recorded on the form. Time of detention of Emma was 19.15 and completion of search was 19.18. and that refers to just that particular search of that person.
TVP Counsel asked her about the process of writing of the statements after the incident. She was asked about the ‘recovery ‘position that he was put in and demonstrated how he moved his mouth/lips and that she was satisfied that he was still alive. Grainger described that officers were around him at this time. Again she recreated the sound of the coughing noise that Habib made and was asked about when she noticed Habib going grey. She still did not recall however Emma shouting that he was going blue.
Jurors asked where Emma was when she was smoking and the officers’ view of Habib. They again asked her about Emma’s comment about going blue. She was also questioned about the strangling comments and confirmed that she did not communicate with any of the officers during this time
The second independent witness Morris Nedd gave evidence before lunch and was asked about the car journey into High Wycombe. It was confirmed that he knew Habib as ‘Paps’. He confirmed that he and others were searched as well as the vehicle and that it appeared that the search was over as officers were beginning to fill in paperwork
He saw Paps go into the car port and he was called back by officers and he described that the officers were convinced that he had some drugs on him. They then grabbed him and went for his throat and then in his words it ‘kicked off’. He saw him struggle with the officers and tense up and then they got him on the floor face down and he stayed back to the rear of a car with an officer and they asked him to ‘leave it’.
Morris confirmed that he did not hear Paps say anything during this restraint. He saw an officer with a knee in his back and with hands on his throat. Can’t recall if they were plain clothes or in uniform. He saw the officers stand away and were stood still and he saw that that Paps was not moving. Morris could see one side of his face but could not hear any noises. When he arrived he recalls the paramedic coming over to Paps and then going back to his car and calling an ambulance.
Morris was then asked questions by family lawyer about his statement and the interviews with the IPCC. He referred to the statement that he made to them about the incident he agreed that this was accurate record. He recalled the various officers on his back, throat and arms. Officer had the one knee and all his body weight on him. Morris confirmed that he felt that Paps was dead already before the paramedic arrived
He was asked about the term ‘Gripped him up’ and he explained that they grabbed his arms and forced him to the floor and gave him no opportunity to spit anything out. Arms were up his back and that an officer had his hands on his throat before he was taken down and this was from a statement the day after he died.
Asked about the actions of the police when he was on the ground and that an officer was choking him and that an officer shouted ‘break his arm’. An officer had his hands on his windpipe and recalls Emma screaming that he was going purple. Officers did not move him but were trying to open his mouth and they didn’t give him first aid. Morris confirmed that police used excessive force and that people were questioning his own role about why he didn’t join him.
TVP Counsel then asked questions about his IPCC statement and that he would have ‘given it up’ and that he was ‘a bit of a coward’. He was familiar with police in London and what they did to people. Thames Valley Counsel Patrick Gibbs was challenged about delving into Habib’s previous history of drug use. Morris broke down at the end of the morning session whilst he gave his evidence.
Resuming after lunch Morris was asked about the length of the struggle and comments that Emma made and deflected Gibbs question about spitting item out. Juror asked him the question that he referred to the struggle as a fight and the point the officers stood away. He confirmed that this was after the restraint ended and could not recall the officers putting him in the recovery position. He was still on the ground face down with his face to the side. Morris felt that he was dead at this point
Paramedic Kevin Thompson was called to give evidence and read his statement. Description given to him was of a 39 year old male who had gone limp. No details were given to him that he had an item in his mouth at this point or when police initially approached him in the car park. He was not told of this until he started giving treatment. He confirmed that Habib was not put in a full recovery position but it looked as if someone had attempted to do this. It was also clear to him that no one had given him CPR. He called for ambulance back up and gave treatment until he was handed over to the hospital.
Coroner asked him about the different category levels of emergency. He believed this was a Category A using blue lights. His arrival time was 19.38 and the backup ambulance crew arrived at 19.49. Nothing was taking place when he got there and officers helped to turn him over and saw that he had gone into cardiac arrest. There was no pulse, no breathing but no change in colouration.
He applied oxygen and couldn’t see in his mouth used face valve mask on him and attempted to get air into the lungs and gave him CPR. He asked one of the officers to assist according to his statement. He had no difficulty opening his mouth at this time. Thompson asked an officer to ring for back up and an ambulance. He did not see an obstruction in his mouth even after suctioning the vomit out. Continued to get oxygen into him and CPR but there was no response from him. Team were ready at the hospital when we arrived
Questioned by family lawyer about his statement and summarised the key actions that he undertook. Clarified that the call made to him was a category B1 (serious but not immediately life-threatening). He was given limited information by the police about Habib’s medical condition. When he got to the scene he was not told about a package and when he was told later he was believed to have ‘swallowed a package’ No evidence of cardiac arrhythmia and he was flat lining and no electrical activity in the heart. No difficulty opening his mouth and air was able to be pumped into his body
When he found him his arms were not spread out, he was face down towards the side and legs were splayed. He was not in a classic recovery position and he did have vomit in his mouth. He confirmed that no CPR had been given and no one had tried to clear his airway. Habib was not breathing and had no pulse and it was clear to him that no one had checked this. Thompson stated that the earlier that CPR is given the more likelihood of someone surviving. Asked paramedic about whether there was any sign of life when he treated him and he confirmed that there was not any.
Thames Valley Counsel Patrick Gibbs asked about communication with the paramedic via the police control room. Issue was raised about the evidence from the last inquest being put to the witness on front of the Coroner and the Jury. This should have been provided to the other parties
Thompson was questioned about whether Habib was placed in a ‘classic’ recovery position. He confirmed that he laying face down with his arms but this was not put in a recovery position. Asked about ABC and basic first aid given. Thompson checked his airways by opening his mouth and looked for obstructions and put in an airway tube. Gibbs tried his best to make the officers seem more competent than they were in their assistance of him.
Difficult day at the inquest for family and friends in particular hearing Morris give evidence and break down was heart breaking and how he felt seeing his friend die. That the last officer confirmed that she too had changed her statements under legal advice in key places was extremely worrying and asks serious questions of not only the officers but their legal representatives, senior officers and the Police Federation.