February 26th 2021

Civil Liberties

Father who pleaded to be released from hold on neck SEVEN TIMES before he suffered heart attack and died when restrained was unlawfully killed

Lauren Dale

Lauren Dale

Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

Father who pleaded to be released from hold on neck SEVEN TIMES before he suffered heart attack and died when restrained was unlawfully killed

A 29-year-old father was unlawfully killed after being chased and restrained by staff working at Manchester Victoria Station – having pleaded that he’d been struggling to breathe SEVEN TIMES as he was restrained face-down on the ground.

A 29-year-old father was unlawfully killed after being chased and restrained by staff working at Manchester Victoria Station – having pleaded that he’d been struggling to breathe SEVEN TIMES as he was restrained face-down on the ground.

Despite Jack Barnes’ requests to be released from the hold, the staff refused and he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Today, Senior Manchester Coroner Nigel Meadows recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

He said the four Customer Service Representatives’ (CSRs), who were acting ‘at least in part in a security role’, used ‘excessive and unreasonable force’.

Mr Meadows said they became ‘overstimulated and aroused’, ‘losing self-control’ as they became ‘carried away by the bravado of the chase.’

The inquest heard that the four CSRs, who were working for an external company called Palladium Associates, were instructed to follow a ‘walk away policy’ with regards to non-serious incidents.

However, they chased Mr Barnes for almost nine minutes before catching him, after an altercation within the station in which he had swung his bag at one of them.

Mr Barnes, a father of one from Hull, was restrained face-down on the ground, with body camera footage from the CSRs capturing him pleading that he was struggling to breathe SEVEN TIMES.

The body camera footage also captured one of the CSRs, a former police officer who had arrested and restrained over 1,000 people in his career, saying: “I’ll tell you what, I’ll just put him out.”

It also showed Mr Barnes laid on his front with his arms behind him as he is held, at one stage with pressure being applied to his neck.

The coroner said ‘grossly excessive and unreasonable amounts of excessive force’ were used which amounted to an assault and that it was possible for the court to come to the conclusion of ‘unlawful manslaughter by one person or as joint enterprise.”

Mr Barnes was restrained face-down on the ground. Body camera footage from one of the CSRs captured him pleading that he was struggling to breathe no fewer than seven times.

The Inquest was told that the restraint continued for at least a couple of minutes after Jack had stopped moving and before anyone thought to check on his condition or to perform CPR.

When paramedics and police officers arrived at the scene they carried out emergency treatment which involved Mr Barnes being given assistance to breathe through a tube. He was taken to hospital but never regained consciousness. He died seven weeks later.

The hearing was also told that Mr Barnes had taken an unknown amount of synthetic cannabinoids during the evening and up to the initial altercation outside Victoria Station.

The Coroner said Mr Barnes died of bronchopneumonia, caused by suffering a hypoxic brain injury, following a cardia arrest which was contributed to by physical exertion, the effects of a prolonged and the unreasonable amount of force used in restraint, pressure being applied to his neck and the consumption of synthetic cannabinoids.

Medical experts told the hearing Mr Barnes had likely suffered a heart attack restraint and that the restraint had ‘more than minimally contributed’ to his cardiac arrest and subsequent death.

Mother says men must be held responsible for the death of her son

Mr Barnes’ mother, Patricia Gerrard, says she can never forgive the people who ‘snatched away’ her son, and says she has never been able to watch the footage of the video as she knows it will be too heartbreaking for her.

“From day one I have said that the people involved have needed to be prosecuted for what they did to Jack. If this had been the other way around, my Jack would have been sent to prison, I am certain of that. He should still be here with us and to see his beautiful daughter grow up,” she said.

“These people just think they are a law unto themselves and take matters into their own hands. There is no reason that my son should have ended up dead.

“How can anybody justify ignoring somebody’s repeated pleas to be allowed to breathe? It is absolutely appalling and the actions of these men are the reason Jack is no longer here and no longer able to see his little girl, who was just three-years-old when he died. I hold them all responsible.

“They changed their story throughout and initially claimed Jack had hit them with pool balls in a sock. That just wasn’t Jack. He had the right name as he was a bit of a ‘Jack the lad’. He got into scrapes yes, but he was not a fighter. There was not an aggressive bone in his body.

“If there was ever any trouble he’d run and would never harm anyone. He ran more than half a mile. They’ve never once said sorry.

“Jack was a very loving boy and so deserving of life. He was loved by those who knew him. To lose him is the cruelest thing to ever happen to us as a family.

“He was snatched from us at just 29 and that devastated us. Not only did we lose our beautiful son, my children Samantha, Lee and Stephen lost their beloved brother who was stolen from them so cruelly.”

Lawyers say actions of staff were ‘wholly inappropriate and life-costing’

Mrs Gerrard was represented by solicitor Lauren Dale, of Hudgell Solicitors, and barrister Frederick Powell, of Doughty Street Chambers, at the inquest.

Ms Dale said: “This case is a reminder of the tragic consequences of security and other personnel seeking confrontation and using excessive force.

“In this case, the policy of the employer was to walk away, yet they chased Jack for more than half a mile before pinning him to the ground and bluntly refused to listen to his requests to allow him to breathe more easily.

“To hear the phrase ‘I’ll put him out’ used is obviously very disturbing. The inquest heard Jack was placed on his front in a prone position for quite some time and a restraint expert said there was the opportunity for him to be sat up and put in the recovery position. This didn’t happen.

“The expert also expressed his concerns about a hand being on Jack’s neck, which he said was not consistent with the restraint techniques and was unnecessary, and that Jack was probably placed on his front for longer than he should have been.

“Despite Jack being unconscious and not moving at all there was no sign of appropriate care being shown. Throughout the entire episode the response was wholly inappropriate to the incident which occurred and ultimately proved life-costing.

“Jack’s family, particularly his sister Sam, have found viewing the video footage heart-breaking. His mother has still not been able to do so to this day. That is understandable given what she knows is said by her son, and the responses given by the CSRs. They show no concern for his welfare at all and were completely reckless as to Jack’s state of health.

“The family were further hurt by what they viewed as a lack of compassion from the four men during the inquest.

“We want to thank the coroner on behalf of Jack’s family for the extremely thorough manner in which he has conducted this inquest, and given his findings, we will now be considering our next steps to seek justice for Jack.”

Mr Barnes grew up in Hull and worked as a bricklayer and for a number of local employers, undertaking factory work. He had a couple of jobs and lived a normal life, he had recently been living in Manchester when the incident happened, in October 2016.

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