March 10th 2021

Civil Liberties

Lawyers challenge CPS decision not to consider manslaughter charges over ‘unlawful killing’ of man restrained at Manchester Station

Dr Neil Hudgell

Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

Lawyers challenge CPS decision not to consider manslaughter charges over ‘unlawful killing’ of man restrained at Manchester Station

Lawyers acting for the family of a man who a Coroner concluded was ‘unlawfully killed’ when restrained by staff at Manchester Victoria Station say the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has made a ‘fundamental error’ in saying manslaughter charges cannot be brought in relation to his death.

Lawyers acting for the family of a man who a Coroner concluded was ‘unlawfully killed’ when restrained by staff at Manchester Victoria Station say the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has made a ‘fundamental error’ in saying manslaughter charges cannot be brought in relation to his death.

Jack Barnes, 29, died after being chased and restrained by Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) working at the station. He pleaded to them that he’d been struggling to breathe seven times as he was restrained face-down on the ground.

Last month, Senior Manchester Coroner Nigel Meadows recorded a verdict of ‘unlawful killing’, saying the CSRs, who worked at the Metrolink-run station for an external company called Palladium Associates, had restrained Jack with ‘unnecessarily prolonged, grossly excessive and unreasonable force’.

Mr Barnes suffered a cardiac arrest and hypoxic brain injury and died seven weeks later on 2 December 2016.

None of the men involved, Paul Fogarty, Brian Gartside, Matthews Sellers and Stephen Rowlands, faced prosecution at the time, but following the inquest, and the Coroner’s decision to allow body camera footage from the CSRs to be released to the media, the case has received widespread media coverage and brought public condemnation of the actions of the CSRs.

At one stage, the body camera picked up Mr Rowlands saying ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll just put him out’ and telling Mr Barnes: ‘If you struggle, I will put you to sleep. It won’t kill you but you will go to sleep for a while.’

Today, Mr Barnes’ relatives said they were ‘hugely disappointed’ by a CPS statement which said manslaughter charges could not be considered due to there being ‘no new medical evidence that establishes a clear link between Mr Barnes’s death and the actions of the suspects.’ It said a possible prosecution for assault was being considered.

Mr Barnes’ mother, Patricia Gerrard, said the news felt like her son was ‘being let down again’ and that ‘his life didn’t matter to others’.

Now, Hudgell Solicitors have written to the CPS asking them to review the findings of the Coroner.

Neil Hudgell, executive chairman of Hudgell Solicitors, says that if the CPS decision is not reconsidered, the family of Mr Barnes will be supported to launch their own proceedings, be that through a Judicial Review of the CPS decision, or by pursuing a private prosecution.

He said: “The Coroner was very clear in his findings that there had been more than sufficient evidence to conclude that Jack was killed by unlawful act manslaughter by one person or by joint enterprise.

“He added that it was apparent that the actions of the men in question constituted an assault against Jack in relation to which any sober and reasonable person would inevitably have recognised the risk of at least some harm.

“The Coroner made clear that the assault and restraint was plainly an operative cause of death and consequently we have written to the CPS to say we strongly believe that it has made a fundamental error in respect of causation in law and fact.

“We have asked them to reconsider their position on the understanding that the failure to do so will inevitably lead to our clients considering their own proceedings.”

‘It feels like Jack has been let down again’

Mr Barnes’ mother, Patricia Gerrard, says she is ‘hugely disappointed’, and feels her son has been ‘let down again’.

She said: “It took more than four years to finally feel that people would be held accountable for what happened to Jack, and when the Coroner announced his findings, and agreed to the release of the video footage, it was a real step forward as finally people could see what really happened that day.

“Today just feels like another step back and that Jack has been let down again. It’s like his life didn’t matter to others. He was my son and that’s how I feel. We are hugely disappointed. I thought an assault that took somebody’s life was manslaughter. Isn’t that what an unlawful killing is?

“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have had from people since the Inquest and to see so many other people want justice for Jack.

“We are grateful to the Coroner as his verdict and decision to release the body camera footage left these people with no place to hide. The CPS have no place to hide either in how they handle this. The video shows all you need to see and people can make their own judgements on what happened.

“Even on the video they are claiming that Jack had been threatening to stab them, but the Coroner found this to be completely untrue and said that at no time did this happen. He actually said that they had made a deliberate attempt to exaggerate the situation by saying something which was completely untrue.

“We’ll keep fighting for justice for Jack, and to ensure changes are made to prevent another family losing a loved one in this way.”

Solicitor Lauren Dale, of Hudgell Solicitors, who represented Mrs Gerrard at Inquest, said: “Today is another difficult day for Jack’s family.

“Through the past two weeks they have been really pleased by the support they have received from so many people, including Karl Turner MP and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

“Importantly, they again want to thank the Coroner for ruling that the video was able to be published in the press – despite objections from some legal parties at the Inquest.

“It has ensured this matter has fallen under full public scrutiny and there will now be strong opinions as to the decisions taken. These decisions will ultimately have an impact on public confidence in the justice system.”

 

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