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Jury out in church caretaker death trial

Tue 15 Mar 2016
By Antony Bushfield

A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of a police custody sergeant and two detention officers accused of killing a church caretaker.

Thomas Orchard, 32 and a paranoid schizophrenic, died seven days after being restrained at a police station for more than 20 minutes.

The court heard that after being arrested and taken to Heavitree Road police station in Exeter in October 2012, he was held down, handcuffed and a large fabric webbing belt mainly used to restrain arms and legs was placed across his face to prevent him from biting.

Bristol Crown Court was told he was then freed from the restraints - with his arms appearing to fall limply to his sides - and made little or no movement as he lay face down on a mattress in his cell.

Family handout/PA Wire


Jurors heard how it was a further 12 minutes before the officers re-entered and discovered he was not breathing. By that time, he had suffered a cardiac arrest.

A pathologist found that Mr Orchard died from severe hypoxic-ischemic brain damage, caused by a prolonged cardio-respiratory arrest "following a violent struggle and period of physical restraint".

Mr Orchard, who worked at St Thomas's Church in Exeter, died in intensive care on October 10 2012, at 6.05pm.

Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Sergeant Jan Kingshott as he leaves Bristol Crown Court


Custody Sergeant Jan Kingshott, 44, and civilian detention officers Simon Tansley, 38, and Michael Marsden, 55, each deny two charges of manslaughter.

The trial has lasted for 10 weeks and heard how Devon and Cornwall Police had authorised the American-made Emergency Response Belt (ERB) for use across the face to prevent spitting or biting.

It is alleged Mr Orchard was heard shouting "Let go" or "Let me go" a total of seven times as he was placed face-down on a blue mattress and searched by the officers.

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