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August 8th 2017

Civil Liberties

Hudgell Solicitors welcomes swift IPCC response in case of police search which ended with baby’s ashes spilled across floor

Leanne Stephenson

Leanne Stephenson

Solicitor, Civil Liberties

Hudgell Solicitors welcomes swift IPCC response in case of police search which ended with baby’s ashes spilled across floor

Lawyers acting on behalf of a young mother who says police officers tore apart her ‘memory teddy bear’ containing the remains of her 10-month-old son have welcomed a swift investigation into the matter.

Lawyers acting on behalf of a young mother who says police officers tore apart her ‘memory teddy bear’ containing the remains of her 10-month-old son have welcomed a swift investigation into the matter.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has today issued a statement in which it says officers in this incident, which happened in June, have already given their accounts of the events and that video footage from body cameras is also being studied.

The IPCC has said it is “looking at the actions of officers and whether there is any organisational learning arising.”

Ms Wright, 23, said she had been left “hysterical” on her hands and knees trying to recover the precious remains of her baby boy Nathan after officers from Staffordshire Police Force left her partner’s property.

She had been at his flat at the time, and despite officers having a warrant relating to a stolen laptop, Ms Wright says she and her partner were not suspected of committing any offence themselves, and that she informed officers before they carried out the search that the teddy contained her son’s ashes.

When officers left empty-handed, Ms Wright went into the bedroom and was “completely heartbroken” by what she found.

IPCC Operations Manager Steve Bimson said: “We have met with Ms Wright and her partner to explain our role and we will keep all parties regularly updated on our investigation.

“This is an emotive case and we are conscious of the distress and wider concern this has caused. We will be looking at the actions of officers and whether there is any organisational learning arising from this incident.”

Civil Liberties Solicitor Leanne Stephenson is representing Ms Wright, and says the IPCC response has rightly been quick.

“Given the harrowing circumstances for our client, we welcome the swift IPCC response in this case,” she said.

“We feel there are many serious questions which need asking around the events of this search, and welcome the reviewing of video footage from body cameras worn at the time.

“Whatever happened during the search, there can be no doubt that finding her son’s ashes scattered on the bedroom floor afterwards must have been a horrifying experience for our client.  This should never have been the outcome given the search was in relation to a stolen laptop.”

Ms Wright and her boyfriend James have lived with the trauma of losing Nathan, aged 10 months, in April 2014. Despite being born prematurely at 34 weeks, he was a ‘happy and healthy’ boy until his sudden death.

Chelsea says she has carried the memory bear and Nathan’s ashes with her everywhere since, to feel close to him.

Of the police search, she said: “I’d been staying with James at his flat when the police arrived to search his property at about 7.45am. We had nothing to hide so of course, we let them in. James wasn’t even under any suspicion as it was all in relation to somebody else.

“I even mentioned the teddy bear to the police before they started searching, but the Velcro on the teddy bear’s back had been opened and the bag had been cut open. How on earth could they have expected to find a laptop inside a small plastic bag which was inside a teddy bear? It is absolutely disgusting.

“I can’t understand how the police can be so heartless and so inconsiderate. As soon as I went into the bedroom and saw the mess I knew it was Nathan’s ashes spread around the room.

“I was just in hysterics. I got onto my hands and knees and tried to salvage the ashes and brush them onto pieces of paper, but it was impossible. How on earth could they do this to a mum who has lost a baby boy?”

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